Holmes Steps Forward As Carter's Replacement

Redshirt freshman notches six catches, including two for touchdowns, while filling in for the injured Drew Carter. With Carter out possibly for the year, Holmes could see more time down the stretch.

With senior flanker Drew Carter on the shelf likely for the rest of the regular season, a possible replacement emerged during OSU's 35-6 win at Indiana Saturday.

Redshirt freshman Santonio Holmes, who has backed Carter up this season, came through with a career-high six catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns. His play was part of an OSU offensive explosion that tallied 603 yards, including 387 yards through the air.

"That's what we want to do every week -- put up big numbers rushing the ball and throwing the ball," Holmes said. "If we get our offense to click each and every week, we should be successful."

Holmes caught a 15-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left in the first half, putting the Buckeyes up 21-0.

On the play, OSU was facing second-and-10 at the Indiana 15. Holmes caught a short pass from quarterback Craig Krenzel in the left flat, then turned and outraced Indiana's Cedric Henry to the end zone. With the Buckeyes out of timeouts, Holmes was on the line to get at least a first down or the half likely would have ended.

"The clock was a big factor," Holmes said. "My first instinct was to score or get tackled. If I had been tackled, we would have gone in at the half. I was thinking `Just get in the end zone.' "

Carter was sidelined with a knee injury in the first half. That opened the door for Holmes to enjoy a huge second half. He made grabs of 39 and 37 yards before hauling in 47-yard touchdown from Scott McMullen to put the Buckeyes up 35-0 with 6:23 left in the game.

"It could be a good opportunity for me," said Holmes, noting Carter‘s injury. "But at the same time, I'm going to pray for him and hope he can come back healthy and finish up the season. He's a big part of our offense. The rest of the receivers have to come together now."

The only bad mark, perhaps, on Holmes' day was his fumble early in the fourth quarter. On the play, he caught a post pass from McMullen. But Henry exacted revenge by punching the ball out at the 1-yard line with teammate Jake Powers recovering.

"I just didn't get into the end zone all the way," said Holmes, who had a key fumble of a punt earlier in the season against N.C. State. "I should have been more careful with the ball. I was trying to tuck it in and get my hands over it. By the time I was able to do that, the defender was able to knock it out.

"You have to be conscious of it all the time. Any time you make a fumble or you don't make a big catch, that can determine the outcome of the game."

Clearly, OSU coach Jim Tressel is impressed with Holmes' talents. But he admitted ball security is an issue.

"Santonio Holmes is a good player," Tressel said. "Sure it helps to have a guy like him step up. He is a young player. There comes a point in time where you understand that you have to hold on to that thing like your dear life depends on it every time you touch it."

Minutes later, though, Holmes was all smiles after hauling in another deep ball from McMullen to notch his second touchdown of the day and his career.

"Coach just called my number again," Holmes said. "He gave me the green light and told me to go get it."

Holmes is hopeful that this game is the one that gets OSU's struggling offense going.

"All year long, we knew the receivers would be able to make plays," he said. "We were just looking for a game to break out. I talk to Michael Jenkins before every game. He said, `It's a big day today. You need to have a breakout game.'

"It felt real good to get a chance to play and make plays for our team. It's good to know I can get the job done. But it's about our team right now."

With Carter out, it appears that OSU will use Holmes as well as Bam Childress and receiver-turned-cornerback Chris Gamble to fill the flanker position. Holmes said Carter's absence will compel him to work even harder in the weeks ahead.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I'm just going to work hard in practice. I know I've been working hard all year, but now I have to step it up to another level."

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