Ben Boulware was held out of Clemson’s 59-0 win against S.C. State last Saturday with an ankle injury despite his best efforts to get on the field. Now healthy, the senior will return to play against one of his favorite styles of offense on Thursday at Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets’ triple option attack is hard to prepare for, especially on a short week, but Boulware prefers the task of trying to stop the run for the majority of the game as opposed to chasing around slot receivers in a spread offense.
“I think I’m definitely able to cover a guy, but I’d much rather cover the option or cover the run for 60 snaps than cover a guy for 60 snaps,” Boulware said.
On Monday, Boulware’s ankle was still bruised after getting rolled up on against Troy, but he doesn’t expect to be limited in Atlanta.
He spent much of last week pleading his case to Clemson coach Dabo Swinney to play against S.C. State, but to no avail.
“I wanted to play. I didn’t care if we were playing Daniel High School or the Dallas Cowboys. I wanted to get out there and play,” Boulware said. “They obviously didn’t really need me, but I don’t care. I could’ve played 75 snaps and been perfectly fine.”
An added bonus to facing Georgia Tech’s offense for Boulware is the opportunity to hit the quarterback, something the Clemson defense is forbidden from doing to Deshaun Watson in practice.
Yellow Jackets’ QB Justin Thomas has 28 rushing attempts through three games and the opportunity is there to hit him several times each game.
“We can’t even breathe on Deshaun or (Swinney will) pull our scholarship. Now getting to go against these guys and getting to treat them like a running back, it’s pretty fun,” Boulware said.
Getting Boulware back for Georgia Tech should provide a boost for the Clemson defense.
The Yellow Jackets’ scheme is different from every other offense Clemson will face, and the Tigers have seven new starters on defense .
“He’s our emotional leader. He’s a great teammate to all of us on the defense,” Tigers defensive lineman Christian Wilkins said. “He’s someone that brings the energy and brings it every day and wants to compete.”
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Kendall Joseph, who’s preparing for his first start against Georgia Tech, said having Boulware next to him to help with play calls and reads has been invaluable in practice.
“He’s seen a lot of the offense, a lot of the formations. He’s really been helping me a lot because this is my first time preparing for it. He’s been a big brother for me this week,” Joseph said.
Who: Clemson (3-0) vs. Georgia Tech (3-0)
When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta
TV: ESPN. Radio: 93.1 FM
Line: Clemson by 9 1/2