ALBANY — He went without a reception in the University at Albany football program’s 45-3 win against Bryant, but sophomore wide receiver Dev Holmes said last weekend’s team result spoke for itself.
“We got the win,” Holmes said after Tuesday’s practice. “Since I’ve been here, that’s the most we’ve scored, so I’m fine with that.”
Holmes, who starred at Troy High School, started fast as a freshman before defenses began to focus on the 5-foot-8 receiver. UAlbany head coach Greg Gattuso said that attention from opposing defenses has continued through the Great Danes’ 1-1 start to the 2019 season, during which Holmes has four receptions for 24 yards and no touchdowns.
“I think [with] Dev’s explosion on the scene last year, teams — they’re all over Dev,” Gattuso said of Holmes, who had 587 receiving yards in his first four games last year before finishing the season with 734. “Where Dev goes, he gets heavily followed.”
That means Holmes is still playing an integral role in UAlbany’s offense, but Gattuso said the Great Danes “need to get him involved more” in the coming weeks as more than a decoy.
“I know he’s frustrated. I know he wants the ball 20 times a game, and that’s OK,” said Gattuso, whose team plays Saturday at Monmouth. “I want a guy like that. I’m never unhappy when a guy wants the ball.”
It was rare, too, that wide receivers got the ball in UAlbany's 42-point win. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jeff Undercuffler passed for two touchdowns, but was only 14 of 25 passing for 94 yards in a game that saw UAlbany rush the ball 43 times for 362 yards.
While his statistics have suffered, Gattuso said he has been “thrilled” with Holmes’ overall development. Specifically, the coach credited Holmes for improving his blocking.
“Believe it or not, he’s a better football player right now because he’s learning all the hard things,” Gattuso said.
Holmes said his personal goals for this season are to have more than five touchdowns, 50 receptions and 1,000 yards, and that he knows there is still plenty of season left for him to make an impact with his big-play ability.
“I’m just taking it day by day. I’m thinking positive. Staying positive,” Holmes said. “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team,’ so I’m not trying to bring the culture down because I’m not getting the ball or my stats aren’t good through the first two games. It’s only been two games.”
‘JUST DO YOUR JOB’
Redshirt senior defensive back Jarren Williams had a simple explanation for what led to the interception he returned 63 yards for a touchdown against Bryant.
“Good things happen,” Williams said, “when you just do your job.”
And when you listen.
Before that play, UAlbany cornerbacks coach Curome Cox recognized Bryant’s formation and shouted to Williams to play up on the line of scrimmage. The play was a screen, and Williams’ presence near the line of scrimmage helped hurry it along, resulting in the ball tipping off a Bryant wide receiver’s hands up into the air.
“You’ve got to catch the ones they give you,” said Williams, who credited redshirt junior safety Hayden Specht for the pressure he applied on the play, too.
QB ON WAY BACK
Redshirt junior quarterback Griffin Dahn is close to being available for the Great Danes.
“Probably another week or so,” Gattuso said.
Dahn broke his throwing hand during the preseason, an injury that ended a competition for the starting spot between Dahn and Undercuffler.
“He’ll be throwing next week,” Gattuso said of Dahn.
In UAlbany’s first two games, Undercuffler is 29 of 53 passing for 293 yards and four touchdowns. The redshirt freshman hasn’t committed a turnover, and his starting spot seems safe.
Gattuso said Dahn should be able to rejoin the Great Danes in a backup role no later than the team’s fifth game, which comes Sept. 28 vs. William & Mary. Currently, UAlbany’s No. 2 quarterback is redshirt freshman Braeden Zenelovic.
“He’s got ability and I think it’ll be good to get him back,” Gattuso said of Dahn.