Monday Morning Quarterback with Jared Clauss

Former Iowa Hawkeye Jared Clauss provides subscribers with his final weekly installment of the MMQB. Clauss talks about some interesting defensive line shifts against Minnesota, the play of the offense and defense and more...

Q: You played a key role on two of the best defenses of the Kirk Ferentz era, in 2002 and 2003. The 2003 defensive statistics were among the greatest in school history. The 2008 defense put up better statistics in several areas. Should we think of this defense along those lines?

Jared Clauss: Iowa was third in the Big Ten in points scored per game, the defense did its job, and the stats don't lie. I played in the NFL, and know that stats don't lie; you have to produce and they did that this year. If you judge it by that, it goes back to what I have been saying all year; being pretty doesn't win you games, results do. They had results, and I can't argue with that.

Q: We talked about sack totals a few weeks back, and how Iowa hasn't gotten a lot of those. But the Minnesota game, was that a case in point on the impact of pressure and hurries, even if the players aren't getting home for the ‘sack'.

Clauss: You saw what Minnesota did. They brought all kinds of looks; run blitzes, pressure off all sides and very often, and they were burnt left and right. A good offensive line, especially one that does slide protection off play action, they can pick that up. That is two fewer defenders back there covering guys. They got torched. On the other side, Iowa played the defense it wanted to play, it relies on the front four to get pressure, and they did not get torched. You can count on one hand the number of big plays this defense has given up all year. Javon Ringer had a 29 yard run, that was the longest all year against Iowa. There are not a lot of opportunities to hit big plays, and that is Norm Parker's defense. They have been in the top 20 for a number of years. You can't argue with that philosophy. If you don't agree with it, take a look at Minnesota's defense against Iowa's offense. You can't argue with results, and they are good at it.

Q: What are your impressions of Broderick Binns?

Clauss: He is making plays. He looks like a guy that has a lot of closing speed. Even when the quarterback booted outside this year, he has a burst and made up ground quick. That is something you don't see until a guy has been in a program for a few years, a few years to work with the strength coach to get that explosiveness, and its good to see that as a freshman. I know the coaches work them hard, and I think they had a good group of seven or eight guys this year that showed they can play. You know about King and Kroul, but they have a lot of nice young ends for the future, which is encouraging.

Q: As I look ahead to next year when thinking of the linebacking corps returning, I know there may not be a Hodge or Greenway, or even a tandem like that. But I am wondering if the three of them together might not be the best trio in the Ferentz era with regards to production.

Clauss: They are going to be good. What they have done all year is fundamentals; they are very sound. Just watching those guys, they tackle well in the open field, they played screens and draws extremely well, they played off cut blocks in the open field well, and they had production in terms of interceptions. I think without having to blitz, they stopped the run well. They have played sound all season long. It hasn't been something where they needed to blitz a guy to make plays. It's amazing what they have been able to accomplish, and yet I think they have a chance to be something special next year.

Here are some additional observations from Jared Clauss

On Jewel Hampton: His confidence level kept getting better all year, and he looked better this year. What, he had seven touchdowns, 5.2 yards per carry, nearly 500 yards. That is pretty impressive for a freshman. I appreciate his running style, but he needs to learn how to not take hits. He is reckless running in there. Some guys can handle that, most can't; I hope he is the former. But he is impressive, and you could see his confidence grows.

On Rick Stanzi: He continues to make plays with his feet. You just can't teach that. We talked about that against Illinois; his mechanics will only improve as he sees more defenses through the years. But his ability to get out of sacks, that is so frustrating for a defensive lineman, a quarterback that has that sense to take a step up at the last second. That pocket presence, and I think Rick has that, especially against Minnesota. He made a few nice first downs with his feet. Iowa did a good job of moving the pocket early in that game and going to play action.

On the Minnesota Defense: Early in that game, Minnesota had a ton of energy on defense coming out of the locker-room, and I wrote down that ‘it will not last, they will wear down'. They shot all of their bullets early and they had nothing after that. Iowa did what they do, they were patient and wore them down and that energy faded.

On the Iowa Offense: Iowa finished third in points scored per game in the Big Ten, and their scoring defense was third, too. That is a pretty darn good year. 30.2 points per game on offense, which is in the top ten all time in school history. You throw that in with the stat thing we were talking about earlier; you can't argue with results. Everyone is frustrated with those four losses, but if you don't think Ken O'Keefe can coach on offense, look at that. I saw once again, down by the goal line, they ran a ‘Power O' play, it was shut down, they came back with the same action, it froze the linebackers and Brandon Myers was wide open. People don't see that, but as a defensive player, those plays all play off each other and work well together. That, in my opinion, is the toughest thing to stop. When the draw looks exactly like the play action, when a stretch play looks like a deep shot, and the linebackers are sucking up into something that looks the same, that is how you get those big plays.

On the Iowa Defense: I saw some late shifts by Iowa on the defensive line, late. They were shifting right before the snap, so that tells me they learned Minnesota's cadence early. That is tough on an offensive line, especially for a center making the calls. The offensive line diagnoses how they will block and one the snap cadence starts, the defensive line moves; that is tough to block. That's what it looked like to me, at least. That's something that players talk about on the sidelines, saying this is what they are doing, they are doing a hard count, etc. IN the NFL, we were always trying to figure out snap counts, because getting off the ball is huge, as quarterbacks hold the ball for such a short period of time in the NFL. It's important to take advantage of every amount of time that you can. You learn to pay attention to snap counts and things like that. I have had teams that played against us, and they did it to us, too. You have to mix it up from year to year playing the same teams, because every advantage is remembered.

On Andy Brodell: He is a tough dude. He has taken a lot of tough hits over his career. Besides the hamstring, he hasn't had a ton of difficulties. He takes a lot of hits, and many of those are where he is defenseless. He is just a tough guy.

On Iowa's patience in the running game against Minnesota: Coach Ferentz mentioned after the Minnesota game; I was frustrated because I wanted Shonn to get the record early in that game, but it would have been stupid to run it with that extra guy in the box. They were daring Iowa to throw it. They did, and they did well. When a team crowds the line, you can get yards but it's hard. Minnesota was just daring Iowa to throw it early. They were run blitzing; they knew Iowa wanted to get Shonn the record. They made it tough on them early.

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