Holmes Back in The Mix

After missing the first four games of the 2007 season with an undisclosed injury, Josh Holmes took the field for the first time in his Hurricane career Saturday versus Duke. Read on to see what he's talking about...

Josh Holmes would be involved in 15 defensive snaps Saturday versus the Blue Devils in the Hurricanes 24-14 win. And in that time he recorded three total tackles including one for a loss.

Shannon would praise Holmes as one of the stand out performers despite his limited play during his Sunday morning review press conference.

It should go without saying that Josh Holmes has arrived for the Miami Hurricanes.

"I was pretty nervous, but at the same time, that is why I came here," Holmes said. "That was my first career start at the University of Miami. I was very excited about it."

Following an impressive spring and fall camp, the 6-foot-2, 275 pound Holmes was in line for a starting job. But, like all players coming back from injury, he needed to start from the bottom and work his way back up the depth chart, as is Head Coach Randy Shannon's unorthodox M.O. when dealing with players returning from the injured list.

"I really don't know (how long it would have taken me to get back," Holmes said. "My mind set was just to get better. That is why I came here to play and make plays on the football field. That is all I do.

"There is no time when I said 'oh, this is when I am going to come back.' It is just my mind set to keep on getting better right now, because I don't feel I am close to my potential of what I can do. Coach Hurtt, Coach Shannon, and Coach Walton know I can reach my potential."

With his play versus Duke getting him noticed by the coaches, Holmes was elevated to the primary backup to the left defensive tackle for this Saturday's game versus North Carolina.

"I'm not sure on how many snaps I'll get (in the next game), but Coach Shannon says 'when your name is called, be ready,'" Holmes said. "And like Coach Hurtt says 'go out there and make plays,' so that is what the coaches want and that is what is on my mind right now"

"I have to keep on grinding during practice because the day will come (when I'll get to play more) so I just have to keep working hard."

During his time on the sidelines nursing his injury, Holmes was able to sit back and watch his team mates more, and from that, he was able to learn through observation.

"I did a lot of watching my team mates," Holmes said. "I just know I had to get better and focus on the little things. I had to get my technique down that is what I really focused on and did well doing it. I've become a better mental player by just watching."

Other than focusing on improving himself, Holmes was the team's number one cheerleader on the sideline, a role that he took seriously.

"You have to reach out to your team mates and encourage them and keep them up so they continue to play hard. This is a team. If we win, we all win, if we lose, we all lose."

Holmes has been compared by coaches, team mates and players to former Hurricane standout defensive tackle, Warren Sapp. It is a comparison he is flattered to get.

"I haven't watched (game) film on him, but he is a great player, I've seen him on Sunday's" Holmes said. "I feel honored to be compared to him."

The comparisons come from his size and ability to break on the football at the snap.

"Like Coach Hurtt told me, I am not the biggest dude and I'm not the strongest," Holmes said. "But, I am pretty football smart and I know when it comes to football what you should do as a defensive tackle."

"I basically do what I've always done throughout high school, and that is utilizing my speed. If they can't get their hands on you or if you get into them real fast and are able to come off of them then you are good."

However, Holmes is the first to critique his flaws and aspects of the game that he needs to work on especially after coming back from injury.

"(The coaches) said to come back and keep on rolling how you already were (during fall camp)," Holmes said. "They just wanted me to get into shape. I am not going to lie, I am really out of shape right now. But at the same time, once I get back into running and everything, I'll be perfectly fine."

One aspect of the game that the former Point Loma High School standout at defensive tackle and tight end takes seriously over all others is his technique.

"I am going to play with what I know how to do and that is I can get off the ball real good and I can run lateral real well," Holmes said. "I'm very quick and I am trying to get my technique down. When I want to and I put my mind into it, I play good technique."

Antonio Dixon was one of his biggest supporters off the field, and on the field, Holmes looked to Dixon, a player who went from the dog house during fall camp to being a standout in the Hurricanes rotation this season.

"Watching him, watching the whole defensive line, really helped me out because I see what you should do when you get into games, "Holmes said. "When I first got in there as a red shirt freshman and it was my first time playing and they were behind me, so I really appreciated that."

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