Currently sitting second in the CFL’s sack race with 12, Bryce Carter has grasped his opportunity to become a fixture on the Ottawa REDBLACKS’ defence with both hands.
Thus far, it hasn’t mattered what the opposing offence brings his way, he has kept trucking along, piling up the sacks. On nights where he’s held off the stat sheet, he’s in the backfield repetitively, putting pressure on the quarterback, and forcing him into the waiting arms of a teammate.
That favour has been returned to him numerous times this season, as the REDBLACKS’ defence has picked up over 40 sacks on the year. The defensive line’s mentality has become “four equals one,” putting emphasis on working together and fighting for the same goal.
“That has always been my message, and they have all bought in,” said Defensive Line Coach, Mike Phair. “Bryce has put up some great numbers, but it’s the group that has been working together. I love Bryce’s approach, he busts his butt every day, and he does exactly what you ask.”
Carter says that without some All-Star-calibre players around him, he might not be having the season he is. Their willingness to eat a couple of blockers or contain a roll-out has allowed him to get some favourable matchups, and get the job done.
“As the season keeps going, I’m getting more comfortable,” Carter said. “Playing with guys like Michael Wakefield, Cleyon Laing, and Lorenzo Mauldin makes it a lot easier. All of it is coming together.”
Of course, opposing offences now see that Carter is a threat, and need to pay attention to him in the game plan. He has seen different looks virtually every week, but keeps the same mindset. If he can’t be the one to get the sack, he needs to work to help one of his teammates get there.
By and large, pressuring the quarterback has been a strength of this Ottawa team, which Carter says is a product of good coaching, both by Phair, and Defensive Coordinator Barron Miles.
“We don’t do the same thing every week,” he said. “One week, I might be aligned on the edge, and others, I’ll be over the guard. The offence is going to change their looks, so we’re doing the same.”
The gaudy numbers are great for getting a pay raise and making a name for yourself, but Carter isn’t thinking about either of those things yet. The only thing that matters to him right now is winning games, one week at a time.
“It’s bittersweet,” Carter said. “Getting those numbers feels good, but it’s not equating to wins, and that’s what we’re here for. We’re doing all this to win games, if we were doing that, it would feel a lot better.”
Aspirations to reach the playoffs have been dashed, and the disappointment is palpable, but there are still two games to go. At this point, nothing can be done to change the fortunes, but the want-to in Carter’s heart hasn’t faded, and won’t until the season officially comes to a close around 10 p.m. on Saturday, October 28th.
“The goal this week is to go 1-0,” Carter said. “We can’t worry about it.”