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Lendy Holmes Q&A
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OU defensive back talks football, growing up and life
It has been a long and winding road for LendyHolmes from the time he arrived in Norman as a freshman wide receiver until now. He made the switch from pass catcher to pass defender in the spring of 2006, and there have been plenty of bumps and bruises along the way.
But the bottom line is the Dallas South Oak Cliff product has persevered. And these days, Holmes is thriving as the starting free safety in the Oklahoma secondary.
Heading into the Texas Tech game, he led the team in interceptions with four and ranked third in tackles with 58, including 41 solo stops. On top of that, the ball-hawking senior has recovered three fumbles.
Almost a year after missing OUís Fiesta Bowl showdown with West Virginia due to academic ineligibility, Holmes has matured into a true leader this season.
Sooner Spectator caught up with Holmes after practice recently to talk about pressure, short memories and his OU career.
Sooner Spectator: Your senior season has been a good one for both you and your team. What are your thoughts on the way youíve played this season?
Lendy Holmes: I feel good about the way I have progressed, as far as preparing for practices and getting ready during game weeks. Iím just better prepared overall and thatís made a big difference. Last year, I just made way too many mistakes out there that cost the team at different times. But Iíve made some adjustments and clued in a little better and that has helped me play better overall, I feel.
SS: Coming into 2008, had you put the negative bowl incident from last January behind you or how exactly did you approach that whole deal?
Holmes: It was something I had to put behind me to some degree. It was the past and it was over and you move on. But at the same time, I keep it with me to remind me that I need to always take care of my business outside of football. I donít want to ever put myself in that situation where it costs my team. So really, I have put it behind me, but itís always in the back of my mind as a little reminder.
SS: How far have you come maturity-wise over the last three or four seasons?
Holmes: I feel like I have matured a lot, especially over the last year or more. Iím not just trying to fit in and do my own thing out there these days. Now, I feel Iím more of a part of this team. I try to be a leader when Iím out there and keep everybody together.
SS: In the long run, are you glad you made the switch from receiver to defensive back?
Holmes: Itís worked out really good. Of course, I would have liked to have seen it work out at receiver, but thatís not how it happened. Iím just glad I got a chance to compete for a job and work my way into the lineup somehow. Thatís what itís all about.
SS: Having played receiver for a while, how much has that helped in your evolution as a defensive back?
Holmes: Itís definitely helped me, especially in the way receivers think and in their route running and knowing what to expect. I maybe have a little bit of an edge since I used to play the position and I can sorta put myself in their shoes and have an idea of what they are thinking and what they want to do.
SS: What would people be surprised to know about Lendy Holmes?
Holmes: Thatís a tough one. Everyone knows Iím a family man and I like to joke around every now and then. Maybe that I just keep my family with me all the time. I have a picture of them I look at before every game to remind me that Iím not out there by myself ó Iím out there for them, too.
SS: What are your thoughts on the no-huddle offense and how it doesnít give you a whole lot of time to catch your breath when the defense is out of the game?
Holmes: I donít mind it. It definitely keeps you on your toes. It can get you tired, but thatís why you put in all the extra work in the offseason and preseason so youíll be stronger than the other guy when the fourth quarter rolls around.
SS: What is the key for this defense as far as playing at its highest level on a more consistent basis?
Holmes: Really, just cutting out all the little mistakes that add up to big plays. We have to maintain our communication level at all times and make sure weíre all on the same page every single snap. Little things. Weíre that close to being where we want to be with this defense.
SS: How important is it for veteran guys like yourself to pick up the slack for injured stars like Ryan Reynolds and Auston English? Is that something you take on your shoulders to some degree?
Holmes: All eleven guys on defense have to take on a bigger role. Thatís the only way it works when you have injuries. One guy goes down and everyone steps up a little bit and helps out the defense. You have to continue to play your role, but each guy does a little bit more to make it all work out.
SS: When the game is on the line and you know the other team is passing the ball, is that fun for you? Do you like that kind of pressure?
Holmes: It is fun. I know people look at it different ways. Like some guys are thinking Ďthrow it the other way,í and some are wanting to be the one to bat the ball down or make the interception. The pressure doesnít bother me because itís there every single play. You just have to be confident in doing the job.
SS: What about the plays where a DB gets burned? Do you have to have a short memory?
Holmes: Really, you have to. In this league, you are going up against great receivers all the time and you know they are going to make some plays. You just have to keep working and playing hard and being smart. When someone completes one on you, you have to get up, get it out of your mind and keep battling.
SS: What were your goals coming into this season as a team?
Holmes: Basically, we wanted to win the Big 12 South and then take care of business in the Big 12 Championship Game. Then go from there.
SS: How did you end up at Oklahoma?
Holmes: I really liked Coach Stoops and the program they had here. I knew they had won the 2000 national championship and it was very far from where I lived, so it made sense. Having my parents get the chance to come see me play or my friends and other family members ó that was big for me.
SS: How do you feel this secondary has meshed together this season?
Holmes: Itís been good. Everyone back there knows each otherís games and we all trust each other, which is something youíve got to have to be successful in this league or anywhere else. The biggest key is we believe in each other. Youíre not out there by yourself ó youíve got your brothers who have got your back.
(Editor's Note: This interview appears in the Nov. 28 issue of Sooner Spectator. To subscribe, call toll free 1-877-841-8877 or go on-line to our web store.)