Ben Boulware understood completely why his head coach, Dabo Swinney, did not want him to play in this past Saturday’s win over S.C. State. However, Clemson’s senior linebacker insisted he was good to go.
“I was mad that he said at the beginning of the week that I was not playing.” Boulware said on Monday to preview No. 3 Clemson’s big ACC showdown at Georgia Tech.
Boulware wished Swinney would have waited at least until the middle of the week before making an official decision on his playing status.
“I think he just wanted to shut that conversation down as quickly as possible just because we have a short week,” the weakside linebacker said. “(Georgia Tech) will be a tough game because they will run the ball at least fifty times in the game so I understand why he did it, but I still wanted to play.”
By the middle of the week, Boulware was moving fine and was even cutting on his hurt ankle. For much of the week, and even on game day, he thought he was going to play. He asked Swinney Saturday morning before they left their team hotel to head to Clemson if he was going to play and Swinney said no.
“I kept asking him if there was any window at all that I could play. I asked him Saturday morning and he said, ‘You are not playing.’ I think he was getting annoyed because I kept asking him. I kept trying to show him that I could play because I could have,” Boulware said.
Despite Swinney telling him he could not play, Boulware was still hopeful when he came on the field for warm ups.
“I was running around and jumping on the sidelines. It felt perfectly fine,” he said.
To his credit, Boulware has played with a whole lot worse. Last year, he played with a bum shoulder the last four games of the regular season.
“My ankle was fine. It is bruised, but I played with one arm last year. I literally could not move my arm for four games last year,” he said. “The ankle was the least of my worries. 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.
“They obviously didn’t really need me, but I didn’t care. I could have played seventy-five snaps and have been perfectly fine. Coach Swinney is obviously smarter than I am, and is looking into the future, knowing we have a short week.”
But don’t worry Boulware is playing this week as the Tigers (3-0) head to Atlanta to play undefeated Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Defensive coordinator Brent Venables had the defense in pads during Sunday’s practice as he tries to get the defense ready for what they will see from a physical standpoint from the Yellow Jackets.
“(The ankle) is still bruised right now, but the swelling is down. We did one hundred and sixty plays yesterday in practice, but it felt perfectly fine.”