The junior from Zachary, La., fielded a Truman Spencer punt on his own 8-yard line and once he made the initial defender miss he was off to the races for a 92-yard touchdown.
“After I caught it I saw that the return team had set up a nice hole so when I saw the hole and hit it, I saw I was past the defender and I was gone,” said Holliday.
Holliday’s return was the second longest punt return in school history and it tied the mark of Kenny Konz against Tulane in 1949.
Eddie Kennison has the school record with a 100-yard return against Mississippi State in 1994, and to even be mentioned in that same breath is an honor to Holliday.
“It feels really great to get back there and return one like that and to be mentioned with guys that have been so successful in the NFL means a lot,” said Holliday.
Holliday nearly eclipsed his earlier mark and claimed the third longest punt return in LSU history later in the third quarter when he took a punt at the 5-yard line and broke it to the sideline only to be pulled down at the North Texas 36-yard line.
Players are taught to let the ball go if you’re inside the 10-yard line and luckily for LSU, Holliday didn’t realize where he was on both long returns.
“I didn’t realize where I was,” Holliday said. “Coach told me to stand at the 10-yard line and not go backwards and on the first one (touchdown return) I saw that it was a nice punt and he out-kicked his coverage and I had a chance to return it.”
Just to get the opportunity to return punts is something that Holliday has looked forward to since last season when he had problems fielding them.
He put in a lot of time over the summer working on that phase of the game and feels much more confident when called into action.
“After track season, I worked all summer on just catching punts,” said Holliday. “I just try to make a big play whenever I can and I feel real good when I’m standing back there now.”
The extra work that the speedster put in should help him get more opportunities to touch the ball in the future and no one knows that better than Les Miles.
“He’s worked awfully hard fielding balls, and he’s not only a better punt returner, but he’s a much better receiver,” Miles said. “He has really acquired the skill of receptions, and I feel much more comfortable with him back there.”
The big plays that Holliday provided could not have come at a better time and Miles hopes it is a sign of things to come.
“This was the big game for him, and it’s right in time,” said Miles. “I look forward to him doing that again and again for us.”