Clauss on the Hawkeyes

Q: Iowa had a great deal of success running the ball this week against Iowa State, even when Iowa State knew it was coming. What is that like for a defense knowing something is coming but not being able to stop it?

Jared Clauss: Maybe subconsciously I’ve blocked it out of my mind but I can’t remember too many times knowing we couldn’t stop the run. Obviously when we were in our first year or two we’d play some teams who were bigger and faster like Ohio State but that changed over time. One thing we prided ourselves on was stopping the run and doing so without run blitzes or schemes, just playing gap sound football.  I can remember traditional running teams that would come in and not even attempt to establish the run, that was the biggest compliment we could be given. Of course we had better games than others, but if you were going to beat us we were going to make you one dimensional and you’d have to earn it. It is a very hard thing to do to face a balanced offense. BUt if you know its pass or run you can either pin your ears back or knuckle up. That was a demoralizing loss if you were an Iowa State defender because after we were up by more than two scores, everyone in the place knew Iowa was going to run it and they still couldn’t stop it. I am sure there were a lot of sore collar bones and shoulders on the ISU team as Weisman was doing what he does and Bullock was showing he was ready for downhill running, he was getting yards after contact as well. Iowa’s offense is doing a good job of mixing up play action off of a strong running game, and that is the hardest thing to stop…plays that compliment each other that look exactly the same off of the snap (See Peyton Manning)

Q: ISU does not seem to have a great team this year, but is there something to be said for going out and physically dominating the next guy on your schedule and can winning like that help your confidence regardless of the level of the opposition?

Clauss: You are faced with is a learning opportunity in every game situation.  Iowa was dominating the game for a majority of the time but we can’t let teams back in like we did.  That is going to be a good learning opportunity, learning how to put the game to bed.  Again, we need to capitalize on scoring opportunities when we have them, but they clearly identified they were going to pound them after watching the UNI tape.  It may get boring to some fans, seeing four and five yards a clip, but that is the safest way to drive down the field and get points. Outside of a dropped pass or two I felt Iowa was efficient on offense and when a staff continues to call the run the offensive line has to feel good that they have confidence in them. As a defense they have given up some big plays, but I think they must feel fairly confident in their play so far.  Confidence grows the more unique game situations they face.

You are seeing more emotion out of guys.  If you go back and turn on some tape of some really good teams you see a bunch of crazy guys out there having fun.  They don’t have to think twice about assignments, they trust the system, and they are having fun out there and just playing.  I see some seniors showing emotion, and I like what I see out of the young guys they don’t seem tentative at all.  You play college football for big games;  there is a lot of hard work that goes on for just 12-13 opportunities a year to shine. Getting to run across the field and grab a trophy, that is exciting and that is a memory not soon forgotten. These types of games can ignite the ‘want to’. I can remember carrying the CY-HAWK all over the field  my senior year and just enjoying the moment. I could have carried that trophy all day long.  Floyd of Rosdale, that is different; different, that sucker is heavy.

Q: Do you think Carl Davis has hit that next level? He looks more engaged this year and is drawing some double teams.

Clauss: He was knocking the line of scrimmage back a bit on Saturday night. That causes problems with pulling guards and chipping up to the linebackers.  There were a few times where he was hitting and shedding the center quickly. I believe that was their third team center so there may have been a mismatch there.  He is doing a nice job allows the linebackers to flow quicker to the ball.  He looks to be more consistent in terms of effort; he is not taking plays off and it comes from conditioning.  He is older, more mature and has learned how to take care of himself and he is playing at a high level now.  It’s been tough sledding trying to run inside the tackles these first three games against Iowa. Let’s hope that continues to progress as the competition is going to step up quickly. At Iowa, we’ve always  prided ourselves on is being gap responsible.  Our defensive line over the years has been sound; we don’t get washed across a lineman’s face on combo blocks, they don’t get knocked back on double teams, they read fold blocks well, we have closed power O pulling guards at the end position well and on zone runs have been pretty good at playing off backside cut blocks. Iowa has not had to use a lot of run blitzes to stop the run in the past and they aren’t having to do that this year. We are blitzing mostly on 3rd down to get the ball out quick or get hits on the QB. Run blitzes can open up lanes and being gap sound is easy to talk about but harder to execute.  

Q: That would seem to be an improvement over last year, as I remember you talking about some games where Iowa did get washed across face and struggled on the line.

Clauss: One of the biggest challenges that Iowa’s defense faces as well as other read defenses is that offensive linemen would know how well you were going to play the block.  If they stepped inside, you stepped right with them.  There was no fooling us, so what happens is they used your skills against you.  We used to call it a ‘Bim Chip’ in the NFL.  Where the offensive linemen would step inside like they were going to scoop you then they would throw you inside, the end result is the same as a reach; the Guard is on your outside shoulder between you and the ball carrier.    Iowa is not seeing that just yet but as they get better, they will have to adapt as the offensive linemen are going to adapt, too. One of the strengths of Iowa’s run defense has always been the nose guard in the play side A-gap plays tight enough to get a hit on the center when he scoops up to the LB but also has not gotten reached play side. You can shut down a lot of different running plays if the play side A gap is secured.  The really good centers are the fast ones who can snap it and get their head across a nose guard all at once.  James Ferentz was very good at that.  The old center from Wisconsin, Al Johnson, was good at that. In the NFL, if a center is uncovered or there is a really wide nose guard they will actually pull the center and fold block down on the nose guard with the play side guard because he’s so wide he can’t be reached.  The really good centers don’t need a chip; they can snap it and get their head across. Right now both of the defensive tackles appear to be using their hands well and keeping gap accountability.


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  • jeffbuck

    Another excellent discussion. Thank you, Mr. Clauss.

  • Joyce Lee

    Helpful comments, go Hawks!

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