Don't be surprised if Ute football players get the shakes if they happen to run across the Donahue Show on TV in the near future.
The Utes saw their own Donahue show Saturday night at Rice Stadium and it wasn't pretty.Mitch Donahue, Wyoming's two-time all-WAC defensive end, a preseason all-American and Outland Trophy candidate was a big reason why the Utes suffered their third straight loss at home.
The average fan may not have noticed why Ute quarterback Mike Richmond was running for his life for the third straight game. The answer was No. 49 in white who harassed Richmond all over the place anchored the Cowboy defense that held Utah to just 216 yards total offense, 69 on the ground.
Donahue finished with a team-high seven unassisted tackles, a couple of assisted tackles and had three sacks for 21 yards worth of loss.
Early in the game the Utes tried to trade off on the assignments on Donahue. Then midway through the second quarter, Ute tackle Mike DeHoog volunteered to take on the assignment himself. He probably wished he hadn't.
"He's a combination of quick and strong," said DeHoog. "I've seen some quick and some strong, but never both at the same time. He's a helluva player." Each of Donahue's sacks came on third-down situations and all came when Utah was in pretty decent field position.
Sack No. 1 came early in the second quarter from the Utah 48. He caught Richmond for a 9-yard loss.
His next sack came early in the second half after Utah had moved into Cowboy territory to the 46. On 3rd and 9, he circled around from the left side and dropped Richmond for another 9-yard loss.
The third sack came early in the fourth quarter with the score just 14-10 and the Utes at the Wyoming 43. This time he caught Richmond moving up in pocket and stopped him for a 3-yard loss.
"I was surprised Utah didn't keep their tight end in on me," said Donahue. I'd get past the tackle and then have a back to contend with. I just went full speed and tried to keep containment."
DeHoog marveled at Donahue's stamina. "As the game went along, he never got tired. He just went and went."
Donahue came to Wyoming unheralded out of Billings, Montana. But he started as a freshman, was all-WAC the last two years and has been on several preseason all-American lists. He's also the Rocky Mountain area's latest candidate for the Outland Trophy (three of the last five winners have come from the WAC).
Donahue was a big worry for the Ute Coach Ron McBride, who had gone back to helping coach the offensive line last week.
"Basically we tried to fan him out by using a guard and a tackle on him," said McBride, "but he still kept active. "He not only has great ability, but has great second and third effort. He's for real."
Richmond, who will likely see a brown and white No. 49 in his nightmares this week, said, "That guy's going to be playing on Sunday for a long time."
That will start next year since Donahue is a senior, having started all four years.
"It's a shame he's a senior," said DeHoog. "I'd like another shot at him. But he's done."
Surely the Utes, who are 0-4 against the Cowboys the last four years, are glad they've seen the last of Mitch Donahue.