Republican: Tyler Holmes Even Better Than Expected - UMass Athletics

Republican: Tyler Holmes Even Better Than Expected

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The Springfield Republican has a feature story on Tyler Holmes and all of his great successes this season.

The accolades keep rolling in. Holmes appreciates them, but otherwise lets them roll off his back.

"I'm thankful, I'm grateful. But at the end of the day, all that matters is whether we won or lost,'' the University of Massachusetts junior linebacker said.

Almost every player speaks those words, but an iindisputable sincerity accompanies the words of Holmes, whose team is on the cusp of a playoff berth.

Heavily hyped in preseason, UMass linebacker Tyler Holmes has been better than advertised

Published: Tuesday, November 09, 2010, 6:08 PM     Updated: Tuesday, November 09, 2010, 6:17 PM
UMass Football vs MaineUMass inebacker Tyler Holmes (36) leads his team in almost all defensive categories and last week became the first player in school history to return interceptions for touchdowns twice in the same game.
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AMHERST - The accolades keep rolling in. Tyler Holmes appreciates them, but otherwise lets them roll off his back.

"I'm thankful, I'm grateful. But at the end of the day, all that matters is whether we won or lost,'' theUniversity of Massachusetts junior linebacker said.

Almost every player speaks those words, but an iindisputable sincerity accompanies the words of Holmes, whose team is on the cusp of a playoff berth.

On Saturday, UMass (6-3, 4-2 Colonial Athletic Association) plays at home against Delaware (8-1, 5-1), which is ranked No. 1 in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches poll, and No. 2 in the Sports Network survey.

Ranked No. 13 by the coaches, and 14th by the Sports Network, UMass could make their postseason case all but irrefutable with a victory. Holmes takes nothing for granted.

"We're on the bubble. We need any win we can get,'' he said.

"Any time you play a top-ranked team, though, you're going to get fired up.''

Widely hyped as an FCS All-American candidate in preseason, Holmes has been that rare type of player - even better than advertised.

He's a candidate for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the nation's best FCS defensive player after the season.

After returning two interceptions for touchdowns against Maine last week, Holmes was named the national defender of the week by the College Performance Awards committee. He earned College Sporting News player of the week and Sports Network defensive player of the week honors, too.

He has been the CAA's top weekly defensive player three times, including the last two.

Holmes leads UMass in tackles (91, with 18 against Towson), tackles for loss (11; no teammate has more than 2.5), forced fumbles and sacks.

The 6-foot, 220-pounder also has five of his team's seven interceptions. What makes Holmes' game special, goes beyond the obvious.

"What I noticed on the UMass-James Madison film came when (UMass defensive back Antoine Tharpe) made a big hit (on a pass breakup),'' Maine coach Jack Cosgrove said.

"Everybody was ready to celebrate, but Tyler went after the ball because he knew it might be a live (lateral). He has those instincts.''

Holmes turned those instincts against Maine, too.

"The first interception, we shouldn't have thrown the pass. But I think he baited us on the second one,'' Cosgrove said.

Holmes takes seriously his role as captain, an unusual honor for a junior.

"I can be pretty vocal, but I'm not a rah-rah guy. Everybody has his own way, and I try to let guys do their own thing,'' he said.

Holmes pre-game thing is to review the week's preparation. A middle linebacker last year, he has made the transition to the outside in 2010.

"It was kind of hard, but I did it in spring practice. That helped,'' Holmes said.

"On the outside, you're playing in a lot more space. There is more opportunity to show my athleticism.''

Holmes attended high school in Blacksburg, Va., in the shadow of Virginia Tech. The Hokies let him get away.

"They made their decision, and I am very, very happy at UMass. I still have friends in Blacksburg, texting me or calling on Saturday morning, wishing me luck,'' Holmes said.

Holmes likes to steer the conversation away from himself, even as his defense has become the talk of the CAA.

"We have played hard all season, but we've been playing smarter lately,'' he said.

"It's not about the other team, or about me. It's about us.''

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