University of Miami

1955 - 56 Hurricanes "Don Blosser"
(Authentic Reproduction)




Bolstered by the 8-1 record of 1954, Gustafson introduced a new helmet color for the '55 season, a Green Bay gold shell with a one-inch forest green center stripe. This distinctive helmet was worn for every game of the '55 season except the November 26th season finale against Florida. He was cheered by a potent backfield, tabbing speedy Whitey Rouviere as his pre-season pick for All-type honors yet junior FB Don Bossler became the All American while running the Miami Drive Series to perfection. Bossler's defensive play was just as effective and he was supported in the backfield by QB Sam Scarnecchia and HB John Varrone running behind future AFL center Mike Hudock. Finishing 6-3 while serving the first full season of their probation, the Hurricanes still had all of their home games broadcast nationally on radio and drew the fourth highest national attendance figure. The latter was boosted by a record, overflow Orange Bowl crowd of 75,685 who came to see the 'Canes slug it out in a 14-0 loss to Paul Hornung and his Notre Dame squad. For the annual clash against Florida on November 26th, Gustafson dressed up his helmet design by altering the stripe arrangement, removing the single center stripe and having the team come onto the field with two forest green stripes in a V-shaped arrangement. The 7-6 Hurricane victory boosted the record to 6-3.
While the Green Bay gold helmet with single stripe would be continued for  the 1956 season, Gustafson unveiled the V-striped model again for the final two games of '56, against Florida on December 1st, and against Pitt in the season finale the following week. The alternative helmet designs must have helped to inspire the defense which finished the season ranked number one in the nation. Vester Newcomb played at near All America level, ably supported by 220-pound tackle Charlie Diamond. A very efficient offense that consisted primarily of a brutal rushing attack was led by two-way All American Don Bossler, future Redskin RB. In Gustafson's drive series offense, Bossler was tackled on every play because every play, pass or run, began with a fake or actual handoff to the bruising 200 pound back. Running behind center Mike Hudock who spent most of his eight-year AFL career with the Titans and Jets, Bossler  HB John Varrone, and QB Sam Scarnecchia who also got a few honorable mention All America honors secured an 8-1-1 record and an end-of-the-year number six ranking for the Hurricanes. Only their probation penalty kept them out of the bowl picture and they began to develop a nation-wide "Subway Alumni" following with supporters and clubs throughout the country.     
Like many of the University Of Miami football players of his era, Don Bossler was recruited from the Northeast. The Batavia (N.Y.) fullback started for four-years and made Coach Gustafson's unique offense feared. Every play in the Miami Drive Series began with Bossler taking the ball or having a handoff faked to him. If he was handed the ball, he would keep it and run, or turn and toss it back to the quarterback so that it could be passed or run by another back, or he sprinted into position to catch a pass. It was demanding but he excelled as a ball handler and was a highly respected defensive player and devastating tackler. Bossler's 6'1", 200 pound frame took a pounding but he rushed for 1642 career yards in his versatile role and was elected to the University Of Miami Sports Hall Of Fame. The number one draft choice of the 1957 Washington Redskins, Bossler started at fullback until he suffered a low back injury in the opening game against Cleveland in 1964 and retired after a frustrating season. His eight-year pro career mirrored the dependability and productivity of his Hurricane days and the popular Bossler is still considered one of the "U's" all time greats.    

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