Monday Morning Quarterback with Jared Clauss

Former Iowa defensive tackle Jared Clauss provides his insight on Iowa's 22-17 win against Purdue, plus we take a look ahead to the Iowa-Minnesota game. Clauss was a senior in 2003 when the Hawkeyes went to Wisconsin with an Outback Bowl bid on the line. The same could be true of this week's trip to the Metrodome, the final Golden Gopher game to be played in that facility...

Q: Iowa is last in sacks in the Big Ten this year, but they are 4th in the nation in interceptions. I don't want to ask you if sacks are overrated, but hurries and pressures are very important, because they lead to forced throws and Iowa has done that this year.

Jared Clauss: When I was playing in the NFL, they had a point board in our defensive room. A sack was worth ‘x' points, a quarterback pressure was worth ‘x' points, a play that caused another defensive player to make a big play was worth points. You are seeing more of that third aspect. You don't see the highlight sacks that often, but you are seeing things. Our interception by the goal line, there is good pressure. The quarterback can't set his feet and throws a bad ball. I wouldn't expect Iowa to be high in that stat if you are only rushing your front four. They are doing just want they want to do. If there was a state based on front four sacks…our line coach at Tennessee kept those, I think Iowa is doing well in that regard.

Q: Minnesota doesn't really have a running game; they run a controlled spread system that seems comfortable taking the underneath and short stuff. Should Iowa fans prepare for another ‘bend don't break' weekend, keeping in mind that it requires an offense to be perfect on 10+ play drives to score on this team, barring turnovers?

Clauss: That's why in the first half against Penn State, it's a dangerous thing to see a team that is willing to be that patient. If you think about it, a quarterback doesn't sign his letter of intent to throw four yard dump passes all game for his entire career. They want to throw the ball, and then they think they see an opening in a zone that opens up and you get picks. Iowa could have had a few more of those this week if it wasn't so cold and the ball so hard. It's a rare and dangerous thing to find a team with patience and talent. We will see if Minnesota has that. Iowa gave up 17 this week, they are third in the Big Ten in scoring defense, and they are in the top ten in the nation in that category. You can talk about brining pressure and all of that, but I haven't seen a lot of big plays against this defense. Stats don't win football games.

Q: Your senior season of 2003, that Iowa team went to Wisconsin knowing that if they won, you would go to the Outback Bowl. I think that is what is at stake on Saturday at Minnesota. As a player, when you know something like that is out there to play for, does that add a little something extra to it?

Clauss: There is always going to be an increased amount of anticipation if you have something else to play for. If they were 4-7 right now, Floyd is sitting on the sidelines. This game is huge. It is always a huge game. I expect a lot of Iowa fans up there like always. This team will need that. But having that possibility in the back of your mind is a big thing. These seniors playing in their last Big Ten game, a great group of seniors…it's all pretty big. Iowa needs to keep doing what they have done. It might not be flashy. Minnesota is not as talented as Penn State, and we will see if they have the patience to put drives together.

Q: Did you like playing in the dome? Rick Stanzi has had gloves on the last two weeks, and the wind has been howling. How do you think going inside to controlled conditions will impact things?

Clauss: Like the theory that if you are going to go play on a certain type of grass, you practice on longer grass so when game day comes, you feel like you are on a track. I think it will be a welcomed relief. I was playing bags in the parking lot at Kinnick and throwing it ten feet, and it was blowing side to side. It's tough to throw the football in winds like that. Accuracy should improve. It will be a good game. Minnesota knows what is on the line, too. I just know that Rick has been accurate this year. He has made a few bad decisions, but in terms of general accuracy, he has been on. A few last week weren't so good, but that will improve this week. I loved playing in the dome. I loved the fast track so to speak. I loved seeing all the Hawkeye fans up there outnumbering their fans a lot o times. I look forward to seeing that again this week. Believe me, the players notice when you are in an opposing stadium and there are tens of thousands of people there. So travel safe, Hawkeye fans and cheer them on and let's get number eight and we'll see you someplace warm.

Q: Some fans continue to voice displeasure over the lack of blitzes by the Iowa defense, or that they let teams move down the field in critical spots.

Clauss: One of my thoughts was when you do blitz, you leave open the possibility of big plays, and Purdue hit a couple of those based on our pressure. The most success we had was the individual guys up front getting pressure, causing Painter to move his feet on the interception play. It wasn't a sack on that bobbled interception near our goal line; it was just Painter having to take a side step because of good lineman pressure. Everyone saw Mitch's play on the final drive…that is how Iowa plays. I don't buy into the ‘we need to pressure people more mentality.'

Q: How did you feel about the play of the Iowa secondary, facing over 50 passing attempts this past week and the chance of that many this week?

Clauss: Once again, and people are not talking about this, is how sure handed their tackling has been. The corners have done a great job all year. I can't remember more than a few missed tackles. That is great to see. The toughest play for a defensive back to defend is the back shoulder pass. I thought Purdue ran that a couple of times every well, especially on a touchdown. You can have the ideal coverage that you want as a corner, on his hip, running with him, and if they throw to the back shoulder, it's so difficult to stop. Good quarterbacks and receivers that have their timing down, they can do that. Painter is very accurate, and he has played in a lot of games. He is one of the most prolific passers in Big Ten history.

Q: What did you think of Iowa's offense this week, in general?

Clauss: I saw a good mix. Most people don't see the intricacies. In the third quarter, there was play action towards the West side of the stands by our goal line. It was blocked up, ruining backs on defensive ends, and they ran a deep comeback by the wide receiver. Stanzi under threw it a little bit. They came back the next drive with the same play action, this time they released both backs and set the receiver on a fly route. They didn't go for yards, but those intricacies are big. As a former defensive player, that is the type of mix that I feel is the most dangerous. That is one reasons why the Colts have been so successful. A lot of their plays play off of each other, not crazy sets. Things that look like each other, and their runs compliment their passes. I thought that was well called.

More thoughts from Jared Clauss:

"It was great to see Mitch King be able to rush from an end. That is very difficult. I didn't have that type of athletic ability to get legitimate pressure against a defensive tackle, in that three man rush."

"Purdue's standard spread offense zone read play; that is tough for a defensive end to stop. You have to stay home and read it, but yet squeeze down enough on the line of scrimmage to stop the cutback. Iowa's ends did a great job of that all game, especially with a back like Sheets who is a free wheeler."

"I have been noticing all year and it came out again this week is Shonn Greene's attitude running the ball. I don't know that he has had any sort of ‘me-me' celebrations on big runs. He doesn't pound his chest the way others do. He turns around, shares genuine emotion with his teammates. He seems like he has a great attitude, and not pointing out his great plays. That is commendable nowadays, when you see so many players coming up with a new way to point out their great individual effort. Guys that are quiet are the ones that scare you the most. Ladanian Thomlinson, he didn't talk much on the field. There is not a more intimidating running back than him. You don't seem like you can get in his head, he will do what it takes to win. Those are the most dangerous types of players to go against."

(Iowa Offensive Line Coach) Reese Morgan should be commended. I thought the offensive line played well. There have been a few games where Iowa has given up a few sacks, but for the most part this year it has been an incredible offensive line turnaround from last year. I am excited for this week to see if Shonn can't break Tavian Banks' record. If you would have told people at the beginning of this year, based on what had happened last year that Greene would be within striking distance of that record and our sacks allowed would be cut in half, people would have laughed at you."

"Purdue did a nice job in the first half of fighting pressure and not getting reached by the Iowa offensive line. We have seen Iowa do that all year, especially at center. That is not to say that Iowa didn't have a good game, I just think Purdue played well in the first half. Iowa just wore them down in the second half a bit. You don't have to get six yards a carry if you can break off long ones every other drive."

Jared Clauss is now a Financial Adviser with UBS Financial in West Des Moines, Iowa, back in the city where he starred for West Des Moines Valley as a prep football player. He played for Iowa (1999-2003) as well as the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League

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