Q: Can a struggling team get over in a big way with just one win? Especially when it has been doing the ‘winning things’, such as stopping the run, running the ball, etc. Can one win turn around a season?
Jared Clauss: I know from personal experience, when we were going through the tough times, the most frustrating part was going through it without seeing results. Your confidence can still build and all it takes is a win sometimes. The Michigan State win in 2000 really built confidence for us, perhaps it was a turning point. There was a lot of preparation that went into that game. We were getting better and we were not seeing results. It took a big game like that for us to understand what it would take to win in the Big Ten. Sometimes the lights flick on and guys realize that this is what it’s going to take. I think they are really close. Maybe Indiana is the game that can push us over the edge.
Q: Turnovers have been huge and perhaps that’s all the farther you have to go. From a fan’s standpoint, it’s so frustrating seeing the offensive line playing the way I perceive them to be playing, and still coming up short and stalling out. What have you seen from the line?
Clauss: What I saw against Michigan State was a great job on the zone blocking. What happens is you will get a double on a down defensive lineman; not a true double team, but a side to side move, a center reaching for someone, they were getting to the second level, the linebacker and safeties, really well in this game and that is why you saw huge holes. When Shonn sees a tackler coming, I haven’t seen a time this season where he hasn’t gotten yards after first contact. When he sees a guy trying to tackle him, and the offensive line is giving him a chance to see that with those holes, he is having success. That is positive in my mind. I thought the offensive line was getting to the second level very effectively in this game.
Q: Talk about the challenge the defensive line had this week, against a huge offensive line with a talented running back this week. On top of that, the defensive line has done a great job against Tyrell Sutton, LeSean McCoy and Javon Ringer the past three weeks.
Clauss: I hadn’t seen Michigan State play yet, and I realized early why Ringer was having success. I am assuming their scheme has been this way all year. What their offensive line did was a variety of things. I saw them fold blocking a few times, they run ‘Power O’ quite a bit, they run some zone schemes inside and outside, they were running straight up man blocking at times…that is tough for a defensive line because you don’t know what is coming. I thought Iowa did a great job holding their ground, especially Mitch. They ran ‘Power O’ and doubled him to the defense left a handful of times in the first half and at least five times in the second half. He was holding up that point of contact and they identified him as a guy that had to be double teamed. That is pretty good to hold Ringer to 91 and about 30 of that came off a missed tackle. It was a real positive game for the run defense.
Q: You guys were nicknamed the Bullies of the Big Ten, that was given to you by a Michigan player. I am not saying the past few years the team hasn’t been hitting, but one thing I noticed Saturday was a number of Michigan State players that were being helped off the field. It was a very physical game. Do you like that aspect and do you think that is a harbinger of things to come for this team?
Clauss: Defensively, that is what you want to have. You want to put that fear into an offense. I remember seeing what we call the ‘Tyrannosaurus Arms’, guys not reaching out to catch the ball because our defensive backs would hit them so hard when I was playing. I think that is a foundation to build on. I was really impressed that they came out with a lot of energy. You go back to the turnovers, obviously. The offensive line was blowing up the defensive tackles on the first drive. Guys were hitting on defense, I thought the kick return game, they were hitting that hard. Our kickoff team was busting their return wedge pretty good. I hope they realize that these things will get them going. I know the coaches are stressing that. They will put emphasis on being physical, because that is something we have done well since Coach Ferentz has been there.
Q: I had no problems with Iowa going for it in both fourth down instances in the fourth quarter. How does that make a team feel when your coaches are being aggressive like that? Does it make a loss any easier to take knowing you went down with your boots on?
Clauss: I loved the aggressiveness. I would have done the exact same thing. If I were an offensive guy, I would be very happy that the coaching staff had confidence in us to attempt to get it done. It didn’t work out. I would be very excited about that, and I wouldn’t second guess that call at all. I think it was the right call to make.
Q: You played on some teams that turned the ball over quite a bit, 2001 comes to mind. Generally speaking, Rick Stanzi was making his first road start, he does some things real well and he is inexperienced. That being said, do multiple turnovers have a cumulative negative effect on the team’s overall attitude? I know that Norm preaches that the defense has to put out the fire and all of that, but you are human, also.
Clauss: You are part of a team. That is what happens in football. I didn’t see any bickering or yelling. That is their job. The defense has to go out and play defense when they are called upon. It’s unfortunate. The good things that I saw is that his balls, for the most part, where hitting guys where they needed to be. I think that is a positive thing going forward. The simple things that a quarterback needs to do, I think he is showing. I think for a young quarterback on the road to go hard count late in the game, shows me a lot of confidence. The pressure he was getting, in my opinion, was Michigan State calling the right blitzes on play action. It wasn’t the offensive line giving up sacks. I think Rick did well. You want to eliminate a few of those mistakes, but he is looking really good to me.
Here are some other observations Clauss had from Saturday:
** “I think the inside zone plays for Iowa were looking real good.”
** “Michigan State’s quarterback played real well, they were running routes right behind the Iowa zone and he was putting the ball exactly where he needed to put it.“
** “One thing I was excited to see was that Shonn looked he got stronger late in this game for the first time. He had shown some signs of slowing down in recent games, but to me when he was taking hits, he was getting jacked up and enjoying the contact. That was exciting to see. You want that going forward.”
** “I thought the tight ends did a great job of blocking up on the play action.”
** “It was great to see Tony Moeaki getting involved in this game. It seemed like when they needed yards on a few third downs, Stanzi went his way a few times. You would like to have that safety valve there.”
** “I thought Michigan State did a good job of using play action to slow down Iowa’s rush, and when they didn’t use play action, they got rid of the ball quickly. Whether or not people notice it, Iowa is altering what people are doing on the offense. It’s just hard to see sometimes.“
** “In the second half, the wide receivers blocked a lot better for Iowa. You could see them finishing on blocks a lot in the second half.”