If you watch the Clemson defense, you would probably hear names like Christian Wilkins, Ben Boulware and Cordrea Tankersly stand out as highlighted players.
Very few would recognize No. 31 patrolling the entire field, from the backfield to downfield. Ryan Carter might not be a household name for the third-ranked Tigers, but the undersized defensive back, coming in at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, can do just about everything on defense.
Carter has been a key instrument in the defense’s ability to successfully reload this year, totaling 24 tackles, including a sack and four and a half tackles for loss, tied for second most on the team.
Although the defense gave up some big runs to Dalvin Cook on the ground and some long passes from Deandre Francois, they came up big in the final minutes of the game, sealing the victory over No. 19 Florida State last Saturday.
“A lot of people didn’t think the defense would be doing as good of a job as we are doing,” said Carter, “I take a lot of pride in us performing at a high level.”
Carter’s versatility greatly helps a defense that has had its fair share of injury problems, especially in the secondary. His ability to play safety, cornerback and nickel back provided a young squad with flexibility.
Carter feels like he has adapted well to his role.
“It has its challenges but I’m used to it now because I’m an older guy and I understand the scheme that Coach (Brent Venables) wants on defense,” he said. “It definitely has its difficulties, but I feel like I’m taking them pretty well.”
With four games still left in the regular season, winning out will be no easy task, and while every team has their target set on the Tigers, Carter says that the team is ready to take on any team every single week.
“It’s definitely a next game mentality. We don’t want to take this game and make it bigger than the Florida State game, Pitt and Wake forest, all of those games are big games,” Carter said.
With a game against Syracuse and their No. 5 passing attack in the country, the defense has its work cut out for them, but Carter says that it is nothing they haven’t seen before.
“They’re a tempo-oriented team but we’re kind of used to that because we get a lot of that,” he said. “We’re going against the best receiving core constantly in Clemson every week.”