Ben Boulware wanted to get something off his chest. So when a reporter asked him on Monday about the targeting call he initially received before instant replay overturned the call on the field in last Friday’s win at Boston College, Clemson’s senior linebacker got on his soap box and let everyone know, who was listening, that he is not a dirty player.
Social media was a buzz when Boulware was called for targeting Eagles’ Patrick Towles just before halftime in the Tigers’ 56-10 victory. As the BC quarterback tried to juke the linebacker, Boulware reached out with his arms and pushed the quarterback back, making it appear to be a violent collision.
The line judge immediately threw the flag.
“I think a lot of these referees are trigger happy. They see a big hit and a lot of them just assume it is going to be targeting,” Boulware said on Monday. “I was confused because I know my head did not touch him. I knew I literally kind of bench pressed him off of me.
“I was just confused on why he threw the flag because I knew it was not close at all. I was disappointed that it was thrown so quickly. I saw a bunch of other targeting penalties this weekend … a lot of times they are just really quick to throw a flag when they see a big hit.”
Boulware says he understands the officials are just doing there their job and are trying to limit those big hits and helmet-to-helmet hits as much as possible. He says he knows it is difficult to have to make a call that fast.
However, he said the call on Friday night added on to what happened against Louisville, when the camera caught him holding quarterback Lamar Jackson in a chokehold as he was bringing him down. He said it gives people the impression that he is a dirty player.
“People don’t realize I play linebacker in college football at the highest level. They try to make the game so soft,” Boulware said. “That’s not how I’m brought up. I don’t play the game that way. I never have and I never will.
“If I have to bench press a guy to get him down or shove him or tackle a guy by his head like in Louisville, or by his neck or whatever to get him down, I’m going to do it. I’m going to get the guy down by any means necessary. If people think that it is cheap shot or I’m a dirty player because of it than it is what it is.”
Boulware insisted that if those people who think he is a dirty player go back and watch all 2,000 snaps he has taken in his Clemson career, they will not find three incidents of him being that way.
“People are saying that I’m the most hated college football player and that I’m dirty,” he said. “So people that are saying that are just kind of jumping to conclusions. I’m an aggressive player. I’m an intense player. I’m going to do anything I can to get the opposing player down.
“If I tackle him by his neck, I’m not going to be, ‘Oh God! I have him by his neck. Let me go ahead and let go and let him go real quick. You have him by his neck you might hurt him a little bit.’ We are playing football. I’m not playing golf or tennis. This is an aggressive sport. You can see that I’m kind of annoyed by it because it has been blown up the last two weeks … Like I’m a dirty player. If you watch every single snap that I play, you will not find one dirty play. They don’t show the snaps when I’m helping the quarterback up or when I was like patting the quarterback on the head on the first play of the third quarter or I’m talking to the tight ends and having a good time. They want to replay when I shoved him or replay the Lamar play 400 times, but they don’t show all the other snaps.”