- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 28, 2009

During a drill earlier this year at spring practice, Blake Carter made a mistake on a fairly routine play. Knowing he was at fault, the senior prepared for the typical punishment.

But Carter has been a fixture in Navy’s starting lineup since his sophomore season and is expected to set an example for the younger players, so his error caught the ire of defensive coordinator Buddy Green.

“Usually when we mess up a simple play that we rep over and over again, he gives us 25 or 50 up-downs,” Carter said. “Usually, he cusses or makes a reference at the air, but that one time I kinda felt it was directly towards me. Everybody on the team kinda joked around with it, even to this day.

“You never know what you’re going to get. Every day he brings a new punch line to the field.”

Green shows that intensity every day, but Carter and his teammates can find his outbursts humorous because of how out of character they are. Off the field, Green is as mild-mannered as any other coach on Navy’s staff. And it is that personality that has allowed Green to connect with his players.

“We look up to Coach Green, but at the same time he looks up to us. That type of relationship is one of those where we inspire each other to keep going,” safety Wyatt Middleton said. “I know Coach Green would do anything to make sure I’m OK. That’s just how all the coaches here are. We all talk about the brotherhood within the team, but the coaches as a group have a bond together and are included in that brotherhood as well.”

The Midshipmen (8-3) will try to move one step closer to a school-record 11-win season Saturday at Hawaii (5-6). And as coach Ken Niumatalolo repeatedly has pointed out, it is on the strength of the Mids’ defense that their success has come this season.

But it always wasn’t that way. Two years ago, injuries ravaged the unit, forcing Green to insert a host of underclassmen into the starting lineup. The results weren’t pretty. The Mids gave up yards and points in bunches, and they survived that season only because of a potent offense that scored the most points in school history.

The Mids accomplished their goals that season, winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy and earning an invite to the Poinsettia Bowl. But that success didn’t quiet whispers that Green could be removed during the coaching staff rearrangement following Paul Johnson’s departure for Georgia Tech.

Navy opted to retain Green, now in his third decade of coaching, and is reaping the benefits. Through that trying season, Green never faltered in his belief in his players, and a mutual trust and respect developed that has carried through the past three years as the unit improved.

“A lot of us seniors, when we were struggling our sophomore year, the fact that he stuck with us meant a lot,” defensive captain Ross Pospisil said. “And he’s continued to push to make us better. He’s a man that will let you know when you make a mistake but at the same time congratulate you when you have a good game. He’s always pushing us in ways that we couldn’t push ourselves.

“X’s and O’s, he’s all there. But it’s the other stuff - the intangibles - that stands out.”

Green is the first coach at Ricketts Hall every morning (he arrives about 4 a.m.) and usually the last to leave. At all times, his door is open to his players. That kind of availability is invaluable to the Mids, who can rely on Green for support through the rigors of academy life.

“What really matters is off the field,” Middleton said. “Even when football season is over, Coach still keeps in contact with us. … He’s always around, always asking about our personal lives.

“That’s what makes this place so special.”