Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware was asked how he was feeling after the Tigers clinched the ACC title and a spot in the College Football Playoff with a win over North Carolina on Saturday night.
Surprisingly, his first answer wasn’t that he was excited or relieved.
“Personally my shoulder’s killing me. I’ve been playing with one arm for the past two games,” Boulware said. “This month is going to be huge so I can get my shoulder completely back to where it was. I can finally play with two arms.”
The Tigers have more than three weeks off before the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31 against Oklahoma, and Boulware, as well as several of his teammates, will use the time to rest after playing 10 straight weeks.
“Our whole team’s hurting,” Boulware said. “I think everybody’s kind of worn out. Everybody’s bodies are hurting. That’s why this break’s going to be so big for us.”
Boulware described his injury as a bad stinger that occurred when, “The lineman from Wake Forest just hit the crap outta me.”
He said nothing is broken and there is no ligament damage – it’s just really painful.
“Today it felt fine. It was moving pretty good. I got a couple of shots in it. It feels fine going into the game and then I get hit a couple of times,” he said. “The shot’s starting to wear off right now, so it’s going to hurt like crap when I get on the bus.”
Clemson’s offense is also banged up. Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott said leading receiver Artavis Scott hasn’t been 100 percent healthy for several weeks, and fellow wideout Ray-Ray McCloud returned against UNC with a knee brace after being out for three games with an injury he suffered against Florida State.
“We’ve got a couple of other guys where this rest will be able to help them, not only physically but mentally. It’s been a grind,” Scott said.
Clemson guard Eric Mac Lain said the Tigers have tried to downplay the fact that they might be a little tired, but admitted Saturday he’s looking forward to a week off.
“I’ve been lying to you guys this whole time,” he said. “I’m exhausted.”
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables is glad that in addition to his defense, he will get to rest up as well.
“I’m exhausted. I feel like I took every snap out there tonight,” he said. “All these women will probably hate me, but this must be what labor feels like. I feel it.”
Clemson’s ACC championships
#Includes ACC championship game