Hard Work Paves The Way For Oregon's Holmes

by Ryan Reiswig

The only way Jordan Holmes could be considered more of a Duck is if he would've been born with webbed feet, feathers and a bill.

Heck, if you take out the family restrictions, the starting center for Oregon's number one nationally ranked football team could be considered a third-generation Duck. Holmes's father played for the Ducks 1973-1974 and his high school offensive coordinator Brian Brown lettered three years for the Ducks in the early nineties.

As the calendar pages turn and the Ducks January 10, Tostitos BCS National Championship game against Auburn grows nearer, Oregon couldn't be happier Holmes followed in his father's and coach's footsteps. For Holmes, however, there was one other factor he took into account when choosing his school.

"I really wanted to play Pac-10 football," explains Holmes, a senior. "I thought it'd be a good fit."

Holmes saying "good fit" is somewhat modest. This year Holmes was named first team All-Pac-10 as well as a finalist for the Rimington Trophy, given to the nation's top center. Awards and accolades, however, are just icing on the cake to Holmes.

"I just come out here and do my job everyday and if people see fit that I deserve an award for it, then so be it," states Holmes. "I'm just out here trying to help this team win games."

Win games the Ducks have. Going into the BCS championship game, they hold a perfect 12-0 record, including a 48-13 stomping of Tennessee on the road in Knoxville. The convincing win against the Volunteers gives them an idea of what to expect from a SEC opponent, whose teams are usually very physical and smash-mouth compared to the speed and finesse normally seen from the Pac-10.

"It'll probably be different," admits Holmes. "They tend to be a little bigger than we are, but very rarely do we step on the field and are the biggest team out there. Tennessee was definitely a little different than we were used to seeing but we're going to have to find out come game time."

As much as Oregon needs to be prepared for Auburn's size, Auburn needs to prepare for Holmes and Oregon's offense which has scored more points this year than any team in the nation. Oregon employs a relentless, no-huddle style of offense that often has the opposing defense gasping for air. The Ducks' offense is quarterbacked by Darron Thomas, a very mobile and fast quarterback that does a lot of damage out of the pocket. Having a quarterback with such a style doesn't affect the offensive line's approach though.

"It doesn't really change the way we play, our offense is designed to have a dual threat quarterback," says Holmes, a native of Yuba City, Calif. "We [the offensive line] just do our normal thing and Darron and LaMichael and all the other skill guys make all the magic happen."

The Ducks' fast-paced offense does present a big challenge for the big men up front, however, one that many non-football players would love to have.

"It's tough to keep the weight on and practice like we do," says Holmes, who checks in around 300 pounds. "We've got to eat a bunch. We aren't the biggest guys but it's hard to stay up there close to 300 pounds when we practice like we do everyday. It definitely takes a lot out of you physically and mentally when you're going that fast and you're tired, you just have to keep going. Sometimes it gets tough to push through it."

While playing for the BCS championship is normally every team's goal before the season, once that goal is actually achieved, it can be hard to believe. On top of earning a spot in the biggest college football game of the year, Oregon has a chance to win the national championship and do it going undefeated for the season.

"We got a lot of guys that realized we had a lot of talent on this team and it'd be a shame to not use all these talents and work as hard as we can," says Holmes. "I knew we had something special going on but I didn't quite imagine us going this far."

Working and playing hard is something Holmes takes a lot of pride in; it's a reason he's the player he is today.

"I just want to be known for playing hard," says Holmes, one of the Ducks' team captains. "I work hard in practice and play as hard as I can in games. I'm not the most polished guy, not the most technical guy, not very big, strong or fast, but I work my butt off."

With two teams as talented as the Ducks and Tigers are, the team that follows Holmes' example and works the hardest will more than likely come out with the championship trophy in their hands. Don't expect Holmes to make any predictions though.

When asked if the Ducks will hoist The Coaches Trophy January 10, Holmes didn't provide any bulletin board material, he said something like you'd expect the modest man to say.

Declared Holmes, "We will be prepared."

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