Donahue Top Worry for Aztecs


All week long, Nick Subis has heard it.

From coaches. From players.

“You’ve got Mitch Donahue this week.”

They’re teasing Subis, but in a way, they’re not. They’ve been helping him get ready. The bread and water of football are “focus” and “execution,” and that’s what the not-so-subtle reminders involve. Keep your mind on Donahue, big guy.

Subis and Tony Nichols, SDSU’s two starting tackles, will be responsible for most of the blocking against Donahue today when the Aztecs (2-2, 1-1) play Wyoming (5-0, 2-0) at 11 a.m. (PDT) in a Western Athletic Conference game at War Memorial Stadium.

Donahue (6-feet-3, 260 pounds), a defensive end, is Wyoming’s all-time sack leader with 28. He has been picked as WAC player of the week in each of the past two weeks, is a two-time all-WAC pick and was named to the WAC all-decade team despite having a year of eligibility left as the 1980s ended.


“We’ve watched game film on him,” Subis said. “He’s as good as everyone says he is. He switches up his moves pretty well. You don’t know what to expect.”

Said Nichols: “He does everything quick. He does every move you can think of, and he does them good.”

Moves? He swims, he spins, he does the arm-under and the arm-over. He will likely be Subis’ and Nichols’ toughest competition this season.

Donahue is the leader of a unit that is ranked first in the WAC in total defense (312 yards allowed per game). The Wyoming defense against the SDSU offense--second in the conference in total offense (466 yards)--figures to be the most intriguing match-up. The Aztecs are coming off their most impressive game, a 48-18 victory against Air Force, and quarterback Dan McGwire has been getting better each week. In his past two games, he has completed 51 of 88 passes for 705 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.

McGwire is having quite a year. He has completed 84 of 152 passes (55%) for 1,163 yards and nine touchdowns. Most of his decisions have been good, too--just one of his passes has been intercepted.

“He’s got a really strong arm,” Wyoming Coach Paul Roach said. “That bothers me more than anything else. They have a very potent attack.”


But Wyoming may have the defense to slow it down. The Cowboys lead the WAC in turnover margin, with a plus-10 giveaway/takeaway ratio, and average two takeaways a game.

“I’ve always maintained the most important statistic is giveaway/takeaway,” Roach said. “This year, we’ve emphasized ball security, and maybe we’ve been more conservative . . . this year.”

But the Aztecs are second in turnover margin, also averaging two takeaways a game. In an unusual twist, they have yet to intercept a pass. They might get a chance today, however--Wyoming quarterback Tom Corontzos is third in the conference in passing efficiency (127.3) but has thrown six interceptions.

In fact, the key probably will be how well the Aztec defense plays overall. SDSU is last in the conference in total defense (473 yards), and Thursday’s practice didn’t seem to help matters. SDSU Coach Al Luginbill was so incensed at repeated breakdowns in coverage that he threw the team off the field 20 minutes early, thus accomplishing a first in his SDSU coaching career.

“When you have the same play, the same exact call, and some individual doesn’t execute, then something is wrong with the individual,” Luginbill said.

At the time, he said there might be personnel changes, but Friday Luginbill said he will not make any moves for now.


Although Wyoming is balanced offensively (179 yards a game rushing, 212 passing), Luginbill said the key is to stop the Cowboys’ ground game.

“We’ve got to be able to play run defense, force them to throw the football, just like we do every week,” Luginbill said. “In order to do that, you have to execute the defense.”

The wild card could be the left hamstring of Wyoming kicker Sean Fleming. He pulled it trying to make a tackle last week against Utah, and it likely will hinder him today. A spokesman said Friday that Fleming will punt and kick PATs but isn’t scheduled to kick any field goals longer than 25 or 30 yards. The hamstring is in his plant leg.

Fleming, a junior, has established several school records and kicked 10 of 10 field goals last season from inside 39 yards. He has made 10 of 13 this season, including two of three from 50 or more yards, three of four from 40 to 49 yards and three of three from 30 to 39 yards. He also is averaging 46.1 yards a punt.

Aztec Notes

Neither Wyoming offensive guard Jim Scifres (sprained knee) nor sophomore wide receiver/punt returner Tim Mara (concussion) are expected to play. The Aztecs are relatively healthy; running back Tommy Booker (ankle sprain) and wide receiver Will Tate (foot sprain) did not make the trip, but everyone else is OK. . . . Wyoming is expecting a crowd of about 20,000 to War Memorial Stadium (capacity 33,500). Why so small? Well, you know, antelope hunting season opened two weeks ago. . . . This is Cowboy country: The Wyoming news release lists today’s kickoff at “High Noon” (MDT). . . . Comparative scores game: The only common opponent for SDSU and Wyoming is Air Force. The Aztecs routed Air Force in San Diego last week, 48-18, and Wyoming defeated the Falcons, 24-12, at home Sept. 22. . . . The past two times SDSU visited Laramie, Wyoming won by a combined score of 93-30. SDSU’s last victory here was in 1982, 24-21. . . . Just thought you’d want to know: The newspaper here is called the Laramie Daily Boomerang.