Monday Morning Quarterback: Northern Iowa Edition

September 7, 2009

Written by Jon Miller

Q: You watched the game a day after it took place, so you had heard and read the reactions to the game prior to seeing it. Generally speaking, what did you take away from the game?Jared Clauss: The first thing I heard was that it was one of the craziest endings you will ever see in a college game, and that lived up to the billing there with how it ended. That was a tough situation; as a defender you are taught to stay away from it, and Sash led the charge to stay away from it. You can’t fault anyone there. To step up and block it again is something amazing. It was a unique way to end. I think the benefit for Iowa is that they got this kind of game early; it may wake them up and put things into perspective.

Q: Some people have talked about something you just mentioned, that this game could serve as some sort of a wake up call, that the coaches will have their attention more this week. That begs the question as to whether or not they were focused in on this game.

Clauss: I am not saying they weren’t paying attention to detail. But to me, the emotion was not as high as I would have expected. It’s a home game; you haven’t hit anyone but your own teammates for months. I didn’t see much emotion. I saw some from Sash and on special teams, but it seemed kind of flat. I don’t know if that is due to something else or not. In listening to Coach Parker before the game, he recognized how talented UNI’s offense was. A group of 11 guys on the same page with a strong senior quarterback and really understanding what they are trying to do with all of the different formations and plays they run, that is a dangerous combination. UNI came out with a lot of different sets and types of plays. Iowa couldn’t pin their ears back and concentrate on one certain thing. I think it will be a benefit to Iowa, I really do. Hopefully they will get their focus where it needs to be and come out this week and really play up to their talent level. One thing that became apparent is the guys that need to play their best football are the guys we have with superior talent. Bulaga, Moeaki, Angerer, Edds, Spievey; they have to play their best football this year and lead the rest of them because they do have superior talent. I think you saw in this first game, those guys stepped up a bit.

Q: Offensive line during the Ferentz era, the best teams have had their lines gel earlier in the year. Kyle Calloway will be back this week, Vandervelde may get some snaps. Offensive line play on the interior was not a strong suit on Saturday. How much better do you think things can get with a potential NFL tackle coming back to the line up?

Clauss: You want your best players out there. Calloway has more experience. I think guard will be a better fit for Dace. I saw some good plays out of Doering and Gettis. On the touchdown, Gettis had a nice reach block; but they also made some mistakes. Confidence in what you are doing is huge. Confidence that you know that the guy next to you will do his job is huge. You get more aggressive in your blocking scheme, and I think you will get that with Calloway and Vandervelde. I am looking for improvement there and hopefully the zone scheme picks up. One thing I did like is that I saw some good play action off of the running game. As those linemen get back in there that play action will only improve, because the defense is focused more on the run.

Q: It looks like the defensive line was gassed late, but UNI ran a lot of plays late in the fourth quarter. What were your general thoughts on the defensive line play?

Clauss: I noticed the same thing; those guys were gassed late. I can’t be a hypocrite because I was tired late in some long drives. I know how tough it is to rush the passer time and time again. It’s up to the backups, Daniels and Hundertmark particularly, to really step up in practice and show the coaches they are capable of coming in. If he thinks a tired Ballard is better than a fresh Daniels, then that is what it is. In general, I saw some good things. You asked me last week about replacing King and Kroul, I noticed a few things on Ballard. He didn’t handle the double teams as well, but that comes with time. You cant expect a guy that has played on position to perform as well as he had at the other. That will take time. He struggled with combo blocks and you see a lot of that on the inside. I saw some explosiveness on the pass rush, I think the ability to disrupt in passing situations will be big and he has that ability. As the year goes on and he gets more comfortable there as well as Binns and Klug, I think the pass rush games, which Iowa is known for, will improve. I think they will pin their ears back and put that stopwatch on in their head, where they have three seconds to get to the quarterback, will become more efficient. I thought Klug was feisty; he showed playmaking ability. He had a nice club over against Power O, he had some nice pass rush games, he could work on his lock out a little bit, but it will take a few games. Overall, not bad but you would like to see them improve on conditioning but that will come with time as well.

Q: Based on what you saw, do you think there is exponential upside for both sides of the line?

Clauss: Iowa football over the last decade, you know our teams improve, and the lines especially, throughout the year. I think there will be some depth. There are a few guys they can rotate in on the defensive line, Gettis and Doering can do a decent job for them if need be. All of that is encouraging. That is the basis of Iowa football; you have to have strong line play and hopefully we can gel and improve on what we showed last week.

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Here are some additional thoughts from Clauss from Saturday:

“A Senior quarterback has been very productive. It doesn’t matter what level you play at, he can throw the ball with accuracy. That is dangerous anytime you play, regardless of the opponent. He is a proficient passer and he has ability and understands the offense, and that can be tough to stop.”

“I didn’t see a lot of yards after contact in the running game. We are just going to have to adjust to the fact that we don’t have someone with Shonn Greene’s talent running the ball. A lot of the running yards this year will have to be based on getting a hat on everyone downfield, because I don’t think our backs have that ability to grind out two or three yards after contact. “

“UNI didn’t allow much in the punt return game. There was not much chance to get momentum going offensively, and that can be affected in your punt return game. It was dangerous to try and return some of those punts because they were too short.”

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“UNI was in more of an over front all day, which is having the defensive line shift towards the tight end. They played the tackle over the guard, instead of the center. That makes it more important for the center and guard to talk so the center can help out the guard in zone plays then get to the second level. We can improve on that, and Iowa will see that.”

“Our defensive tackles didn’t recognize a screen early, and that comes with time. You can’t learn that quickly. We have the ability, but it will take a few games to really get that experience to the tackles. “

“I saw some good zone blitzes and good run dogs out of Iowa, so they were mixing the blitz into the base defense.”

“Klug had some nice pressure, batted a ball down and Binns played the run well. There were some missed tackles early on, and I look for that to improve this week. They are a better tackling team than they showed.”

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“Opponents will continue to attack Castillo with Spievey on the other side, and that is not detracting from Castillo; Spievey is just a really good football player.”

“Saw some emotion out of Sash, perhaps he emerges as more of a leader on defense.”

“Iowa did a good job of sticking with what they have done in the past in the redzone with bringing pressure so the ball comes out quick and they know where it’s going.”

“I really liked what Morse did; he had a good block on the touchdown run, he had a reception and picked up some other blocks. He looks like he has taken a step up from where he ended last year.”

Jared Clauss played for Iowa between 1998-2003.  He also played in the NFL for four years, and prepped at West Des Moines Valley.  He lives and works in his hometown as a wealth manager.

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