Ben Boulware was penalized for a personal foul in the first quarter of second-ranked Clemson’s 54-0 win over Syracuse on Saturday when he performed a suplex-type tackle on Syracuse’s Dontae Strickland, grabbing him around the waist, picking him up and driving him to the ground.
The official deemed Boulware’s action to be unnecessary roughness, but Boulware didn’t see it that way.
“I didn’t think it was illegal,” Boulware said after the game. “It’s football, and I’m trying to get him down. That’s why coach (Dabo) Swinney was so mad. I’m trying to tackle him, and the way I tackled him people are going to freak out about, but he’s trying to get extra yards and I’m trying to not allow him to get extra yards.”
Strickland caught a pass near the sideline and attempted to turn upfield before being grabbed by Boulware, who said he simply didn’t want Strickland to gain any extra yardage.
“He was trying to get extra yards, and I’m behind him,” Boulware said. “I’m not going to just let him go. I got to get him down some way, and I’m behind him, so I’m trying to pull him back.
“It’s football. It is what it is.”
Swinney said the official told him that Boulware “tackled him too hard.”
“I know it looked bad,” Swinney said. “I get that, I just was trying to make the point that their guy was running toward the goal line, and Ben was behind him and just trying to get him on the ground, and he was having a hard time. He just kind of got a hold of him, but that’s a judgment call and you’ll get some of those. But I think it just looked bad.”
Asked if Boulware’s hit was against the rules, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venbables wasn’t sure, but he alluded to the fact that Boulware wasn’t penalized after executing a similar tackle against one of Louisville’s players during the 2014 season.
“I don’t know what the rulebook says. I know the whistle hadn’t blown,” Venables said. “I think it’s a discretionary call, maybe. I don’t know.
“That’s part of the game. Sometimes it goes for you, and sometimes it doesn’t. Ben did that against Louisville a couple years ago here, and they didn’t call it — it was a little delay to the tight end — and today they did.”
Boulware knows the official didn’t like his hit, but said Clemson fans probably feel a different way.
“I think everyone in Clemson loves that,” Boulware said. “Syracuse fans, it probably pissed them off a little bit, and people that don’t understand football probably were mad about it, but it’s football.”