Tough yards you could count on


POSTED: Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where do you start with a guy like Travis Sims?

How about here.

Bam — 4 yards. Bam — 12 yards. Bam — 28 yards.

He was that kind of running back. In four seasons playing fullback in Hawaii's spread offense, Sims lost just 8 yards.


Think about that: 367 carries and he only lost 8 yards. Ever.

Gained 2,327. Lost 8.

If ever there was a back you could count on for the tough yards when you really needed them, he was your guy.

And if ever there was a guy tailor-made for the spread — as preached by Paul Johnson — it was Sims.

The base play in the former UH offensive coordinator's attack is the fullback dive. Straight ahead, right behind the guard. Sims was built for it.

“;Travis was a great fit for our offense and a really good person,”; said Johnson, now head coach at Georgia Tech. “;He had great balance, good vision and deceptive speed for a guy his size. He had really big legs and broke a lot of tackles.”;

Said Sims, “;I'm a kind of quick, fast-hitting guy. That offense was perfectly made for me. The first guy that I looked for was one of the DBs. I'd step up and hit him right in the mouth. I figured he'd be reluctant to step up there next time.”;

Like just about every carry Sims had.

Bam. Five yards.

“;Did he mention that he ran that way because he didn't have any moves?”; Sims' head coach, Bob Wagner, asked, chuckling. “;Not a lot of shake and bake there.

“;But, really. He was really strong, and pretty fast for a guy his size,”; Wagner continued. “;That was good because he was strong enough to break some tackles and if the free safety wasn't there or overpursued he could go the distance. You don't want a guy getting caught from behind after 30 yards when he could have gotten 60.”;

Bam — 6 yards and a touchdown that tied the 1992 Holiday Bowl, 7-7.

Bam — 1 yard and a touchdown that put the Rainbows up 14-10 on their way to a 27-17 victory over Illinois, still the program's lone victory in a mainland bowl game.

Ah, yes, 1992. A magical season for Sims and the rest of the Rainbows.

Eleven wins. Western Athletic Conference champs. Victors in the Holiday Bowl.

But fairly humble. Not a lot of hype. Not a lot of swagger, Sims recalls. Which is how Sims and many others on that team played.

Sims said the team had confidence, but never got full of itself. He said they didn't realize how good they were until they got invited to the Holiday Bowl.

Once there, though, the Rainbows knew they could win.

Sims said his confidence grew when he saw that Illinois' spy, Simeon Rice, was befuddled on that 6-yard score.

“;We had that team buffaloed,”; Sims said. “;They had no clue what we were going to do offensively.”;

Maybe staying humble until you have to deliver in the moment is the perfect prescription for success.

“;I'm not a dweller,”; said Sims, who is national sales and marketing manager for Washington Hardwoods in Seattle. “;I don't look for anything beyond what it is in the present moment.

“;I played the game because I could. I showed up on Saturday and that was about it,”; Sims said. “;I was somewhat nonchalant about the whole thing. Some guys, they're in the locker room an hour and a half before they need to be, getting ready. I'd show up about 10 to 15 minutes before I needed to get taped.

“;Once I stepped across the lines, that's when I was ready to play.”;


Joe Edwards was Star-Bulletin sports editor in the 1990s. Tomorrow we unveil No. 30. See starbulletin.com for more on “;The Centurions.”;