... last season, and figures to play a key role in stopping Navy opponents going into 2009. I recently sat down with Carter, who reflected on both his days growing up in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and his career at Navy up to this point.
On how a kid from Stillwater, Oklahoma ends up in Annapolis:
“(Laughs)…well there have been two of us now, so I guess it can’t be too hard because it has been done before. Obviously Terrence Anderson came from my school and was several years in front of me, but I guess you could just say that the ingredients of hard work, dedication, and drive helped me get here. Also I’d have to give credit to my high school coach, who got my name out there to different schools and got the Academy interested in me. I guess you could say the rest is history.”
On the role Terrance Anderson played in Blake’s coming to Navy:
“Terrance definitely played a big part. Obviously I had influences all the way around when it came to where I was going to go to college. My Dad was all for me going to Navy but my mom was kind of hesitant. My coaches were mostly for it, but for any high school student who is graduating I think it is kind of scary, especially [for the parents] because obviously [their son] is growing up a little bit…coming from the standpoint of Terrance – it was great because I could relate. Both of our fathers were close and we are close from them being close, so considering we kind of went through the same ‘pipeline’ with being from Stillwater High School and then graduating and then coming here, I felt it was easier to take advice or it would behoove me to take the advice from Terrance, considering we were so close…he’s like a second brother to me.”
On the chance to follow in his father’s footsteps at Oklahoma State:
“It was a possibility, but it would have been from the standpoint of me walking on for a possible scholarship one day – but not straight out of high school.”
On being thrust into the lineup in 2007 because of injuries in the secondary:
“I think for any guy in any sport - to be honest with you - I think you practice so much to get you better for those times for when you do need to make critical decisions, but practice can only do so much for you…It’s only when you actually get out there and experience the moments that you can’t plan in practice and you just need to react…when you go through situations like that, and when you win some and lose some in situations like that, you know how to react next time when they come about. Because when the lights are on and the fans are out there and the TV is on, well then your nerves and your actions are a little different from when you’re in the comfort of your own practice field or even your home field. So for guys like me and Wyatt Middleton and Emmett Merchant and Kevin Edwards, it was good for us to get some experience during game time situations.”
On being replaced by Ketric Buffin after starting the first two games of 2008:
“It was especially hard given the season I had prior to [last year.] I think that any athlete with goals wants to do well in the sport that they are playing in, and they want to be on the field. I don’t think anybody wants to sit on the sideline. At the same time I try to look back on it now and I realize that it was best for the team. I trust my coach, Buddy Green, and I felt that his decision was best for the team. So obviously it hurt, and it was not something I enjoyed – I will admit that - but at this point in my career I can’t really look back on it as a negative [experience]. I took it with a grain of salt and kept working, and I take pride in knowing I contributed in different areas of the game. Obviously in the Air Force game I had a couple of big plays on special teams and in other games here and there I got into the game in different ways. I took it for what it was worth and I don’t try to dwell on it. We have a new season coming up so I just take it one game at a time and whenever coach Green calls on me I’ll be out there ready to play.”
On the blocked punt against Air Force:
“We went over it a few times over the week. Coach O’Rourke was in charge of our punt block team and we watched film on how they schemed their punts as far as whether or not they did the rugby punt or their basic punt. We went over it so many times that I just knew that it was coming. I just took the right angle and took the right position and went for it. That’s when I blocked it.”
On taking pride in being a good open field tackler:
“I guess I owe that to my dad (laughs). He would always get on me in high school about how I would tackle high and about how people would always get away from me. It took a while for me to get comfortable with solo tackling as a trait and to tackle people around their legs or going for their lower bodies. But after I got comfortable with that I just took a little more respect as far as tackling people and getting them on the ground goes… because if somebody gets a touchdown well then you cant get that back, but if you tackle them it is easier to make the play and then take the next down as it comes.”
On trying to tackle former Pitt running back LeSean McCoy:
“In 2007, when I started a lot, there was one time when I tackled him in open space and I don’t know how I did it. I guess I owe it to my dad. I got him on the ground and I was pretty proud of myself because in open space – in most cases – nine times of ten you don’t have a prayer against LeSean. But in my case I just tried to concentrate and to do what I could, but by far he might be one of the most elusive backs that I have played against.”
On his experience at NAPS:
“As I look back on it – considering I would have graduated this last May if I didn’t go - you might want to say I’ve had second thoughts just as far as the school and educational standpoint goes, but it most definitely helped me in preparing for the Academy itself and the rigorous school work and getting accustomed to the military life. From the standpoint of playing football it definitely brought our team together. The ones who have stayed here and went to NAPS with me, I mean we definitely have a bond that I don’t share with anyone else and it really cannot be explained.”
On the team’s senior leadership:
We obviously know that there is a lot of weight on our shoulders for the upcoming season and we don’t want to let anyone down. We know there has been a strong foundation laid here by the people who have gone before us within the last five years or so. I know that a couple of years before [Paul Johnson arrived] they were not too happy around these parts in Annapolis, and we do not want to be the group that drops the ball. So we definitely take the task on and we are not going to put our tails between our legs and hide. So we have come together and decided to keep this thing going; even if we are quieter than teams which have played here in the past.
On the Ohio State game:
I think it is going to be a good game. I think both teams are going to come in and both want to make a stand as far as letting the nation know – and the other team know - who they are and where they stand. I think both teams will come out and give it their all, and I believe it will come down to whichever team wants it the most. Obviously Ohio State has been talented for many, many years and they take pride in their football team…so I just think that if we can acknowledge that and respect them for who they are and concentrate on every play and focus on how we can make improvements and not make mistakes, then I think we’ll be fine.