Georgia Tech Week is the week Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware looks forward to the most.
He gets to hit the quarterback. And not just Georgia Tech’s quarterback, he is talking about the quarterbacks on his own team, too. The third-ranked Tigers (3-0) visit the Yellow Jackets this Thursday night at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.
Because Georgia Tech (3-0) runs the triple option, its quarterback, Justin Thomas, is more of a running back, which gives defenses more free shots than they have on a typical drop-back passer. And what defensive player does not like to hit the quarterback?
“As we go through the week, we cannot even breathe on Deshaun or (Dabo Swinney) will pull our scholarship,” Boulware said jokingly. “So now, getting to go against these guys and treat them like they are running backs, is pretty fun.”
Last year, Boulware and the defense had a lot of fun hitting Thomas. The Yellow Jackets’ signal caller carried the ball 14 times and netted just three yards. Boulware led the Tigers with nine tackles and had one tackle for loss.
“I have a lot more to do than just hit the quarterback,” he said smiling. “I have a lot of other guys I have to hit.”
Regardless of who he hits, Boulware is looking forward to playing the Yellow Jackets’ triple-option offense.
“I much rather play the option and play the run sixty snaps than have to cover a guy for sixty snaps,” the weakside linebacker said. “This is definitely more (fun) … I’m looking forward to this game plan a lot more than some other spread offense.”
Last year, Clemson held the Yellow Jackets to 71 yards rushing on 42 carries. Georgia Tech averaged just 1.7 yards per carry, the worst totals for a Paul Johnson rushing attack in his coaching career. Those are impressive numbers considering how difficult it is to stop Georgia Tech’s offense.
“It is very difficult. You have your key, but they have a lot of stuff in the backfield that will throw you off,” Boulware said. “There are a lot of moving parts to their offense, but you have to be very mature and focus on what you have to do and not worry about trying to make someone else’s play.
“That’s kind of what our defense is. You do your play and the plays your position is designed to make. When you try to make someone else’s play, and that’s what happened a lot last year. Guys were trying to do someone else’s job and big plays happened.
“It is just assignment football. Read your key and just follow your key. He will kind of take you to the ball. You have to be focused and be a really quick thinker because their stuff goes so quick.”