After a two-week vacation, the San Diego State Aztecs will resume The Dan McGwire Show Saturday night when they meet the University of Utah in Jack Murphy Stadium.
McGwire, previously known only as the World's Tallest Quarterback and Mark's Little Brother, has developed into one of the world's best collegiate quarterbacks this season. He ranks fourth nationally in pass efficiency and is the big reason San Diego State averages 484.7 yards and 37.2 points per game.Not that it's doing much good. The Aztec defense gives all those yards and points right back and then some. San Diego State ranks last in the nation in total defense and next to last in scoring defense, allowing 509 yards and 39.8 points per game.
Result: the Aztecs are 2-4 overall, 1-2 in league play.
With back-to-back bye weeks behind them and the University of Utah coming to town, there's relief in sight. The Utes are 3-5/1-4 and coming off a lopsided 52-21 loss to Air Force - a team the Aztecs beat 48-18.
The Aztecs have beaten Utah in three of their last four meetings. A year ago, McGwire threw for a career-high 510 yards in a 38-37 win over Utah.
"Their offense concerns me, and they've had three weeks to prepare for us," says Utah coach Ron McBride.
In their last outings, San Diego State's defense has collapsed. The Aztecs held a 27-13 lead in the third quarter against Wyoming - and lost 52-51. In their last outing they lost to UCLA 45-31. Coach Al Luginbill plans to make some minor lineup changes on defense against Utah, moving reserve cornerback Damon Pieri to the starting job at free safety, and nosetackle Ramondo Stallings to defensive end.
"We had it (defense) going," says Luginbill. "We played well on defense. I don't know why it went the other way. Now we're back and scrambling."
All of which puts the offense in the position of having to score 40 points per game. The Aztecs rank sixth nationally in total offense, fourth in pass offense and fifth in scoring.
McGwire, a 6-foot-8 senior and brother of Oakland A's first baseman Mark, has completed 56 percent of his passes, for 1,921 yards, 17 touchdowns and just two interceptions. His streak of 178 consecutive passes without an interception ended on the final play of the UCLA game.
McGwire's wide receivers - Patrick Rowe and Dennis Arey - have both caught 36 passes and rank first and third nationally in reception yardage per game. Rowe, with 723 yards and five touchdowns, averages 20 yards per catch; Arey, with 640 yards and 7 touchdowns, averages 17.8 per catch."They have a great quarterback and Patrick Rowe is outstanding," says McBride.
The Aztec running game has been nothing to brag about, but that could change soon. Sophomore Larry Maxey, a starting free safety last year who started this season as an H-back, has played running back for just three games and produced 100-yard games in two of them. After coming off the bench for a 100-yard effort against Wyoming, he made his first start against UCLA and rushed for 103 yards on 18 carries. He'll make his second start against Utah.