MMQB with Jared Clauss Part Two

Jared Clauss was a member of some of the best teams during the Kirk Ferentz era. So he is the perfect person to ask why all of those teams seem to get better as the year progresses, which seems to be the case for this year's Iowa team. Read what Clauss had to say on that topic and much more.

Q: Pat Angerer leads the Big Ten in tackles and interceptions in Big Ten games. He started at middle linebacker and moved to the outside after an injury to Hunter. You don't see that often.

Jared Clauss: No, you don't. He had 16 tackles and two interceptions. What I was impressed with him and with Coach Norm Parker and Phil Parker, was that the middle of Iowa's zone was open early the game. Wisconsin hit some deep cross routes and Iowa made some adjustments. One of the plays I was specifically watching Angerer, and it wasn't a pick play but he got caught in the mix of a couple of receivers crossing and he was upset after the play because he should have been in the middle of the zone. Iowa made adjustments and the Wisconsin quarterback didn't. He kept lobbing it down the middle and Angerer picked him off. I am extremely happy with his play thus far and he seems to be having fun out there. I am sure he will get the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. (NOTE: This interview was conducted on Sunday night; Angerer received the Award on Monday)

Q: You were a part of some of Kirk's best teams. Why did those teams get better in October and November? This team seems like it's getting better and better each week, from Shonn Greene, to the line play on both sides, exceptional play at corner…is there a secret to it?

Clauss: The coaching staff has a schedule. They believe in teaching fundamentals and they teach them on a routine basis each week. A lot of teams come out of camp sharp. A lot of teams come out of camp firing on all cylinders, their timing is good, their hand placement is good on defense and they are doing the right things. Then they lose that because they stop practicing that as the year goes on. They get more into game planning and less fundamentals.

The Iowa staff coaches fundamentals all year long. Tuesday will be a certain drill; Wednesday will be a certain drill. I think other teams are falling off, and it might appear that Iowa is getting a lot better. Iowa preaches fundamentals and they stay on top of it. You see the defensive line against Wisconsin's offensive line. Our defensive line was locking out the offensive line on the snap and looking for the ball carrier. When we were on offense, we were into their chest and shoulder pads blocking them and they didn't have any lock out. You have to work on that stuff week in and week out.

Q: Kirk joked in 2002 that you guys didn't need a bye week, because you were on autopilot. This team this year has some nicks and bruises and Kirk made it sound Saturday that they are very happy it's a bye week; that their tank was running on empty. How much of a boost do you think a bye week can be?

Clauss: You never know what happens in the bye weeks. Like you said, in 2002, things were going right. Things are going right for them now, but if he knows about some injuries and the state of the team, he will have his hand on the pulse there. If he says it's a good time for a bye week, I believe him. Illinois presents a lot of new things, some different challenges so I think it's a good time for them to take a step back to have a good gameplan going into Champaign.

Here are some notes and anecdotes that Clauss noticed while watching the Iowa-Wisconsin game:

-I thought Iowa had a lot of different sets and shifts. You saw a tight end lining in the slot and motion back inside with Reisner, they haven't done much of that.

-The offensive line was staying with their blocks extremely well. You could throw a guard to the inside, but he (the offensive lineman) stays on you its tough to make a tackle.

-I thought the fullback did a great job of blocking; Morse did a really good job.

-The check to the run to the touchdown on the first drive, that looked like a great check. Bruggeman reached the nose and it was wide open. If the nose guard gets reached in any defense, you don't have a defense.

-I thought the kickoff coverage was great once again.

-Downhill running teams need to be able to reach the nose. We were doing that. Coach Bielema knows how Iowa plays defense. He thinks he knows what the weaknesses are. Their line was trying a few schemes, especially on King. We used to call it a bend-shift. The guard holds him up and the tackle slams down, and the guard wheels the defensive tackle to the inside and the offensive tackle goes to get the backside linebacker. Mitch did a great job of locking the lineman out, and as soon as the tackle left, he was right in the hole.

-Stanzi had all the time in the world to read his first, second and third options.

-I thought Reisner was playing well. We all saw the one-handed catch, but he is blocking well. They are getting good tight end play.

-I haven't seen the quarterback read play before. Maybe Iowa put that in with the quarterback reading the run and we threw a couple of passes off of it. All of the spread offense fans should have enjoyed that. I think they ran it three times, with one run and two pass. That was a little something for the Illinois team to look at.

-Jamie Murphy is all over the field on special teams and he is feisty, that is good to see. A guy that wants to play, but his chance to get on the field is on special teams and that is why Iowa has been good through the years, is that players take pride in that.

-I think the physical play from Iowa is getting back to where they want it. You don't hope for injuries for anyone, but you are seeing a lot of opposing team's players limping off the field lately.

-I thought the defensive backs continued to play well. I only saw two or three substantial passes and a lot of them were contested. There were a lot of individual plays being made.

-Geary and Klug looked good. Geary did a great job one time in keeping contain on a reverse. Klug is really aggressive; they both had some good pass rush moves.

-Scherer was rolling to his right a few times, and he threw across himself back to the left. That is tough, as the zone moves on defense. That is a good play by him. You can't blame anyone for that one.

-The wide receiver blocking on Greene's long touchdown run on the draw was exceptional. The offense was stretching the field well. They ran some play action to both sides, draws, screens, I saw some zone, Power O, deep route and misdirection. I thought it was a really well called offensive game.

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