Q: The Big Ten Network’s Gerry DiNardo said numerous times last week when observing Iowa’s practice that he thinks Iowa has replaced Mitch King and Matt Kroul based on what he saw, with Christian Ballard moving inside and Karl Klug and some others. Do you think that is a bit much? Do you think there is a little under appreciation for King and Kroul?
Jared Clauss: Absolutely. No disrespect to Christian, I think that move inside will be good for him. He has the athletic ability and the coaching to make it happen, but four year starters that were productive all four years, who have seen every block that you can throw at them...I don’t think you can make that type of statement until you get into Big Ten play and you see how Christian handles things. I guess the encouraging thing is that DiNardo is even considering that and is making that comment based on what he saw in practice; that must have been enough to get him excited. But I am going to wait and pass judgement at a later date
Q: What are the biggest challenges Ballard may face making the move to the inside?
Clauss: It’s a different type of contact. It’s an immediate contact. There is more double teams, you get more cut blocks. You have less time to see things than you do at end. There are more responsibilities at end, such as the principles of contain, more of a pass rush mentality. But things happen a lot quicker at defensive tackle and it’s more violent down there.
Q: With his quickness, will he be able to use that to a big advantage over slower footed guards, like you guys did when you inverted the ends and tackles vs MSU in 2002?
Clauss: I don’t think there is any question that will be his upside to start. The difference between a good defensive end and a good defensive tackle is not much. They are similar positions You need more quickness than speed and that is yet to be seen with Christian. He has the speed and athleticism, but what made Mitch King great was how quick he moved. He would have been caught from behind running for the end zone, but he needs to be quick, shed blockers and explode. Christian has that ability, but we have to wait and see and the jury is still out.
Q: Iowa has lost a lot of ‘Best of the Ferentz Era’ nominees from last year’s team. Do you think this program is at the start or the middle of a three or four year period where they are in a ‘reload’ mode due to depth? A lot of people from the outside think highly of this team.
Clauss: I think those guys dealt with a senior class that has had a lot of attrition. The thing you need in college football, and there is a reason why they give so many scholarships, is that you have to have guys ready to come in. For a short period of time, they didn't have the depth that you need for a 12 game season. I think they have gotten that back. In my mind, the keys to a successful football season are returners on special teams, a solid core of defensive players and a returning quarterback. On a Ferentz team that is going to be well coached, in my mind those are good bases for a strong season. Now, the difference will be the little things. There is a reason why we lost several games last year. We cannot turn the ball over. We don’t have the talent, even though we have good talent, we don't have talent at every position to dominate. We have to win the turnover margin this year with a defense that can control the clock and an offense that has the ability, with the line, to maybe wear teams down a little bit. I like our chances in any game this year, it’s just a matter of holding on to the ball.
Q: In 2002, that team had to go on the road at PSU and Michigan. This year’s team has the toughest road slate of any Iowa team under Ferentz and he’s been pounding this fact into their heads during camp. Every team has a different personality; what makes a team a good road team?
Clauss: You have to have experience. WHen you go to Penn State, like we were there in 2002, you have to know what opposing crowd noise sounds like. I have never heard a stadium louder than Penn State when they were making their comeback that year. You have to have been in that situation and I know Coach Ferentz is preparing for that, in terms of piping in music, running different situations, always being aware of the different situations that can arise. That is running your basic 7 on 7, your run period. He will put them in different practice situations that will prepare them for unique challenges on the road. But it simply comes down to not having a bunch of guys in the huddle with wide eyes when those things do arise. Because we all know that you are not going to walk into Happy Valley or Columbus or East Lansing and have it be a cake walk. There will be situations that arise. But if you have a quarterback that has been there with some experience and can lead those guys in those situations, that is why I like Iowa’s chances. There is good leadership on both sides of the ball coming back this year.
Q: Appalachian State is the patron saint of all D-1AA wins against BCS teams, their win against Michigan two years ago. Is there a concern of overlooking UNI in advance of the Iowa State game? This is the #4 ranked team in the FCS. Does that make it easier for the coaches to remind them to stay on point?
Clauss: Having played for Coach Fernetz, I know he will never look past a team. There is never a time when he isn't focusing on the task at hand. In that regard, I don’t think that will happen. I can’t speak for the players, but I know that UNI was good against Iowa a few years back. These guys are smart; they know UNI is a solid program and is well coached. When you see their tape, you get it. They know they can play and it doesn't matter what league they are in. Good football is good football and UNI will come in with a chip on their shoulder. I expect a good game. Iowa will be working kinks out, it might take a quarter or two to settle out, but I am confident that a strong defense can carry a team through that and I think we have that. When we get more guys back the next week, we will be just fine.
Q: Rick Stanzi has bulked up this out of season. What does that say to you?
Clauss: He really bought into the fact that durability is a big issue in the Big Ten. You take hits and he looks like he has put on the right kind of weight. He is not having to put so much into his deep balls, based on what I saw on TV last week. He is coming of age. It’s yet to be determined how he adjusts in year two as a starter, but I am encouraged that he has committed himself to get the most out of what he could for the out of season program and bought into Coach Doyle’s recommendations to put on some weight to improve his game.