Former Iowa & NFL Defensive End Jared Clauss shares his views on Iowa football
Q: The three tight end set; it’s something I’ve wanted to see since writing about it this summer. Do you think Iowa just found its identity, as there are a lot of things you can do out of that set in both running and passing?
Jared Clauss: The 3 TE set did appear to work well versus OSU. We have three to four good players who have gotten time this year and that’s encouraging. Iowa had a good game plan against OSU and those first three drives were executed very well; they were using very high percentage passes, short routes and keeping the drives moving. We had good run after catch yardage; that’s how you are supposed to look coming off of a bye week. The ability to use the Tight End in the passing game is a direct result of a good solid run game. The downside to that personnel group is that opposing defenses can stack the box to defend the run. The upside for tight ends that can run and catch is usually the defense will sub in personnel to stop the run and we can get a good pass catching TE on a linebacker. I like my odds there when we have guys that can run like we do. In the run game with the ability to put a tight end in motion, sometimes you can get a mismatch if teams don’t adjust to motions. I think Iowa does a lot of examination at the line and runs to what they perceive as the weakness of the defensive front. I think the game plan will vary each week and if we face a team with a strong front seven they’ll probably use less three TE sets and try to spread them out a bit more, maybe get a LB on a split WR. I’m a defensive guy so I’ll leave the speculation and game planning to those who get paid to score points.
Q: Who wins in a footrace; Dallas Clark or Jake Duzey?
Clauss: That would be a tough one, we’ll never know so speculate all you want. Dallas was sneaky fast and he ran away from plenty of defenders in his day. He’s been causing mismatches since coach moved him to TE and he’s had one heck of a career in the NFL doing the same thing to LB’s in the passing game. Having said that, when Jake caught that pass the first thing I said was “they can’t catch him”. It was nice to see a guy of his size outrunning the defensive backfield for OSU and what a great time for a big play to get them back in it. I’m excited to continue to watch his development. With all of the Tight Ends who have come through the program in the last 15 years, to have the record of most receiving yards in a game is a nice accomplishment. Jake has more of a natural fit on the passing side of things coming from his position in high school. If he can develop his blocking ability he could be a good player for Iowa over the next few years. Coach Doyle has clearly done a nice job of getting some mass on him since high school without sacrificing explosiveness or speed.
Q: Jake Rudock is seven games in now and has played real well in his three road starts. What are your general thoughts on him?
Clauss: There are certain guys who’ve ‘got it’ early in their careers at Iowa. Jake appears to fit into that category. I haven’t seen a great deal of ‘first year learning curve’ mistakes. Have there been a few errant throws? Sure, but that happens to seniors as well. He appears to be making the right checks at the line of scrimmage. It’s already been said a few times; his running ability and speed was a nice surprise. For a first year starter his pocket presence is impressive, which usually takes a year or two to develop. He hasn’t taken a lot of sacks; part of that has to do with good protection but he is also feeling pressure and stepping up in the pocket when he has to and getting rid of the ball when pressure is coming. One other quality I appreciate is the ability to realize when a play is going nowhere and not trying to force the issue. He seems to throw the ball out of bounds and avoid taking the big loss or throwing across his body into coverage. Finally, the best quality a quarterback can have is strong leadership ability. I have never spent any time around him but the coaches speak highly and his teammates seem to react well to him. Let’s hope he continues to develop as the sky is the limit. He appears to have the physical tools and the head on his shoulders to get there.
Q: Where has the defensive line developed the most this year? With five games left, do you think they are near their ceiling for this year?
Clauss: Any good group always thinks there is something they can get better at. If you feel you have arrived, someone is going to pass you up. There are so many details on every snap of a game that someone can get better at…something each and every play. The defensive line has gotten solid contributions from five to seven players all year long. They have a nice three-man DT rotation and a four-man Defensive End rotation going with some more speed coming in at end for passing situations. Coach Morgan has done a nice job teaching the fundamentals and that’s what he’s been known for throughout his career. Those guys appear to be playing gap sound against the run. To be seven games into the season and give up your first rushing touchdown, your defensive line has to be doing something right. The remaining teams on the schedule are all very balanced pass/rush offenses. Our defensive line is going to have to be able to stop 1st down runs, recognize play action, and play well because most of these groups have very balanced offenses.