Boulware, defense ready for Jackson

Sep 22, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets running back Clinton Lynch (22) gets tackled by Clemson Tigers linebacker Ben Boulware (10) and linebacker Dorian O'Daniel (6) in the third quarter of their game at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Tigers won 26-7. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The CEO of the Clemson Beard Gang is ready to rock Death Valley this Saturday. With Heisman front runner and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson making a visit to Death Valley, Boulware and Clemson’s defense has their work cut out for them.

Still, Clemson’s line will be the best and most physically impressive squad the Cardinals have seen this season.

Boulware discusses Jackson, this week’s game plan and much more.

Q: Is it fun going from the triple-option to Lamar Jackson?

Boulware: “It’s difficult because you have a mindset about a certain offense and it’s completely the opposite, but we’re up for the task.”

Q: How many hours does it take to watch their film?

Boulware: “I watched the Florida State game on the way home from Atlanta, the Marshall game yesterday, and the other two games on Saturday. I also watched our game against them from last year.”

Q: Why haven’t people been able to stop him?

Boulware: “He is a freak athlete and he can fly. They do a bunch of funky formations to mess with your eyes. They like to incorporate him in the running game a lot, so you have to have an extra hat on the ball to defend him. Usually the quarterback just hands the ball off and stands there, but since he runs the ball a lot the running back can be another blocker. I feel like defenses have probably had a difficult time adapting to that but I know Coach V will cook something up for us.”

Q: What did Marshall do to keep him in the pocket?

Boulware: “The line played pretty well. I think they had a couple of sacks in that game and they just kind of closed the pocket on him with blitzes and one-on-one matchups with defensive ends against their offensive line. Their D-line played really well during that game.”

Q: There has been so much talk about Lamar Jackson, do you think their running back has played well under the radar?

Boulware: “He’s played well on film. Everyone is always talking about Lamar Jackson but they have some playmakers on that side of the ball with their tight ends and wide receivers. They have a lot of playmakers to help him out. So I think on all levels, including their offensive line, they are a top level team.”

Q: Is that offensive line a lot better from what you saw last year?

Boulware: “I won’t really know until I go up against them. Marshall did pretty well with giving them pressure but I won’t truly know until I get on the field.”

Q: Is it fun going up against a guy like this as a defensive player? How do you look at this matchup?

Boulware: “We respect his game, we know what he brings to the table and that he’s a great athlete. We respect him but we don’t fear anybody. We know he’s an elite player but we’re up to the task. An 8’o clock game day in Death Valley…there’s nothing like that.”

Q: I heard you say that you’re defensive line won the fistfight against Georgia Tech the other night. Will they be even more important in a game like this if they can push the pocket back?

Boulware: “Yeah that’s the same thing that Marshall did. We have to create pressure. We want to keep him in the pocket because when he’s out scrambling he makes plays. So it’s very important for our D-line to get and one-on-one matchups.”

Q: How much will the linebacker core miss the versatility of Jalen Williams lost to an injury?

Boulware: “It’s a huge loss because he’s really the only linebacker that can play all three positions. I’ve played MIKE and WILL. WILL and SAM are pretty similar but I’m obviously not as nearly athletic as Dorian at SAM. Jalen is really the only one that has played all three positions. I know he’s going to kill that rehab and be back in a couple of weeks but we’re definitely going to miss him.”

Q: Even as well as Louisville has played, is it still kind of a kick in the teeth, being the defending ACC champs, having them jump over you in one of the polls?

Boulware: “I don’t care. The polls don’t mean anything if you finish undefeated. What’s going to happen is going to happen. We can only control what we can control. The polls, we can’t control that so I could care less about the polls.”

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