Feature article on the 1992 Holiday Bowl winning team

About their 1992 Holiday Bowl season, Lene Amosa (then a junior center) said:
“I love that year; I love that team. I could talk for years about it.” (HA)

“There’s so much to talk about. The biggest attribute we had as a team was everybody got along. Everyone knew what they had to do. Everyone believed in themselves.” (HA)

Note: The 11-2 season set UH records including the most victories and highest winning percentage, first WAC title (shared with BYU and Fresno State), first Bowl on the mainland (Holiday Bowl in San Diego), first Bowl win, and first top 20 finish in both polls.

About their 27-17 win over Illinois in the Holiday Bowl, head coach Bob Wagner said:
“It was great to represent the WAC as champions in the Holiday Bowl. We beat a very good Illinois team.” (HA)

About their team in 1992, senior receiver Darrick Branch said:
“We had a lot of different personalities, but we were able to bring all that together and create a family atmosphere. We had a family vibe in the locker room. It was magical in a lot of ways.” (HA)

Note: Back then only two of the current WAC teams were members (UH and Fresno State.

About how UH was picked to finish 8th in the WAC preseason poll, Amosa said:
“They ranked us eighth in preseason, so that was more motivation for us. If you look at our team, it was one of the most talented teams all-around.” (HA)

Branch called the preseason ranking:
“an insult.” (HA)

About entering his sixth season as UH coach, Wagner said:
“The year before (4-7-1) we played well. We had a really close loss to Notre Dame. The guys came in confident. I knew we were going to have a good team. I don’t know how the media felt about us, but the prognosticators are usually a year behind. You have a good year and then everybody knows about you.” (HA)

HA Note: “Michael Carter, a junior quarterback, directed the Rainbows’ spread offense, which averaged 293.3 rushing yards and 109.7 passing yards per game.

The base play of the offense was the triple option. The first leg of the play is the quarterback giving the ball to the running back on a quick-hitting dive play up the middle. If the defensive end tackles the running back, the quarterback pulls the ball out and runs to the perimeter. If a defensive player from the secondary cuts off the quarterback, he pitches to a trailing slotback.”

About the triple option in their spread offense, Amosa said:
“It was awesome because it’s a triple threat. They don’t know who’s getting the ball.” (HA)

HA Note: “He added the offensive linemen relied on area blocking, and they would often confuse defenders by “scooping” them. An example, Amosa said, would be leaving a defender unblocked on one play, then double-teaming him when the same play is called later.”

About RB Travis Sims running for a UH single-season record 1,498 yards in 220 carries, Wagner said:
“Travis Sims had a great season. He was in the shadows of Jamal Farmer (1989-90) and had a breakout year his senior year.” (HA)

About his 25 receptions for team highs of 491 yards and 5 TDs, Branch said:
“We didn’t throw very much, but we did it effectively.” (HA)

Taking pride in his perimeter blocking, Branch said:
“My goal going into every game was to block well, and don’t let my guy make the tackle. I liked blocking guys, sealing off my guy and seeing my guy (teammate) fly by.” (HA)

HA Note: “Taase Faumui, Maa Tanuvasa and Junior Tagoai anchored the Hawai’i defensive line, while safety Bryan Addison led the team with 93 total tackles.”

HA Note: “Hawai’i had a huge advantage in special teams because of Jason Elam. He was a first-team All-America placekicker, who finished his career 79 of 100 on field-goal attempts. Elam ranks third in NCAA history with 395 points. He also averaged 43.51 yards per punt in his career.”

About how Jason Elam is entering his 17th season in the NFL, Wagner said:
“Jason Elam, he’s still kicking as they say. We emphasized the kicking game and he was huge.” (HA)

HA Note: “Four players from the 1992 Hawai’i team were selected in the NFL draft: Elam (third round ’93; Denver Broncos); Faumui (fourth ’94; Pittsburgh Steelers); Tanuvasa (seventh ’93; St. Louis Rams) and Branch (seventh ’93; Tampa Bay Buccaneers).”

About opening their season with road wins over Oregon (24-21) and Air Force (6-3), Wagner said:
“It was a tough way to open the season. I look at future (UH) schedules and see back-to-back road games (to start). That’s not ideal.” (HA)

HA Note: “Hurricane Iniki passed over Kaua’i the day before the victory over Air Force. The Category 4 hurricane caused $1.8 billion in damage and six deaths. The team had a bye the following week and some team members decided to help out.”

About how some of their team members helped during their bye week, Wagner said:
“We did volunteer work with the food bank. The hurricane came through that weekend when we were in Colorado Springs.” (HA)

HA Note: “Hawai’i beat BYU in its next game, 36-32, the third time in four years the Rainbows beat their biggest rival. Hawai’i’s Stewart Williams recovered a late fumble deep in Rainbow territory, Ivin Jasper threw a long pass to Matthew Harding, and Marlowe Lewis caught the go-ahead 10-yard touchdown pass with 37 seconds remaining.”

About how they had to beat Wyoming and have Fresno State win at San Diego State (Fresno won 45-21, UH won 42-18) in order to share the WAC title, Amosa said
“Once we found out (Fresno State) won, we said ‘Let’s go play.’ It was an awesome feeling to win. I don’t think I played that game. I think I was hurt. I have an album of pictures. There’s one of us carrying Bob Wagner off the field. I didn’t even look sweaty.” (HA)

About catching a 53-yard TD pass in the 4th quarter to put UH up 27-10, pointing towards his mother (it was her birthday!) in the stands as he crossed the goal line, Branch said:
“That play was the nail in the coffin. We told Mike they’re coming (with pressure), get it out quick. The defender was right on me. I came back for the ball and tried to make a play. Mike got hit right in the chops on that play. As I caught the ball, the defender fell down, and I was one of the faster guys in the conference.” (HA)

HA Note: “Carter rushed for 105 yards and passed for 115 en route to offensive MVP honors. Sims ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Tagoai won defensive MVP honors with four tackles and one sack.”

About how Illinois’ defense had LB Kevin Hardy and DE Simeon Rice, who were selected as the #2 and #3 overall in the 1996 NFL draft, Wagner said:
“I talked to one of their coaches recently and he said five or six kids on defense played in the NFL and one or two on offense were picked in the first round.” (HA)

HA Note: “In all, Hawai’i went 5-1 against bowl-bound teams in 1992, and the WAC was stronger top to bottom back then. For comparison’s sake, the 2007 Hawai’i team finished 12-0 in the regular season against a weak schedule, then got routed by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Warriors finished 3-1 against bowl-bound teams.”

Feeling that 1992 was the best UH team ever, Wagner said:
“I think it was a very special year and special team. In my mind up to this point it’s the best team based on the schedule and who we beat.” (HA)

HA Note: “Branch says he stays in touch with 1992 teammates Lewis, Brian Gordon and Zac Odom.”

About how he and his teammates feel that the 1992 team was the best in UH history, Branch said:
“We talk about the old times. We feel we were the best team in University of Hawai’i history. If the 12-0 team had played respectably against Georgia, you could say otherwise.” (HA)

http://sports.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090804/SPORTS0201/908040319&template=UHsports

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