It was late Saturday night and defensive tackle Joe Vellano was asked to think back to the lofty expectations Maryland had harbored in September as it entered a new season with a new coach.
Vellano exhaled. "Oh, I know," he said softly, contemplating how the early-season promise had faded.
Ten weeks ago, the Terps — coming off a 9-4 year — opened a season in which they believed they could compete for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
As they practice for their final two games of a lost season, Vellano said the Terps might be well advised to look forward, not back.
Maryland plays at Wake Forest (4-3, 5-5) Saturday, then travels to North Carolina State (2-4, 5-5) on the final weekend.
"You kind of move and forget," said Vellano, a junior. He had eight tackles against the Irish and has had a solid season despite playing on a defense ranked last in the ACC.
"I really wish we weren't in this situation. But we've got to keep fighting. Everyone is looking around for an answer and there isn't one," Vellano said. "I think the D-line has played better. Our sacks even show it, [but] it's not enough. We've got to carry it to the whole team."
Entering Saturday's game, Notre Dame had gone five straight games — 195 pass attempts –— without a sack. The Terps sacked quarterback Tommy Rees three times — one of the few Maryland positives.
"I thought we did some really good things defensively," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said Sunday. He cited the sacks and the 10 tackles that resulted in Irish losses.
But Notre Dame converted 10 of 16 on third downs.
"It's just that consistency," Edsall said. "It's missed tackles, it's not getting off on third down."
Maryland lost starting quarterback Danny O'Brien, who was slammed to the turf in the third quarter, breaking a bone in his left arm. Edsall said Sunday that the quarterback is wearing a cast and won't return this season.
Redshirt sophomore C.J. Brown will now be the starter. He has played in all but two games. The backup will be Troy Jones, who came to Maryland as a walk-on and has never played in a college game.
Edsall said the third quarterback would be Tony Logan, the punt returner and wide receiver who played quarterback in high school.
Maryland linebacker Alex Twine, a freshman, had 12 tackles, including three for losses.
The Terps surrendered 508 yards of total offense, including another 100-yard rushing performance by a running back — this time by Notre Dame's Jonas Gray.
Maryland plays at Wake Forest (4-3, 5-5) on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.