And if you thought it couldn't get any worse, it has. Sophomore quarterback Danny O'Brien came off the field grimacing and grabbing his left arm after being tackled following a third quarter scramble. Head Coach Randy Edsall delivered the news nobody wanted to hear in his postgame press conference. He [Danny] broke a bone in his upper arm and we will know a little bit more after I get back out of here and talk with out doctors, said Edsall, who then went on to declare O'Brien would not return for the remainder of what has been a disappointing season.
I was standing right there and I saw him, said sophomore quarterback C.J. Brown. I didn't know what part of the body it was I just knew when he got tackled he landed wrong. And then I saw him get up and you could tell something was wrong.
The Terps came out slow and sluggish on both sides of the ball in the first quarter, giving up their now-patented first drive letdown on defense. Tommy Rees and the Irish offense had no problem working their way down the field on their opening drive, going 67 yards on eight plays in a mere 2:33, capped by a Jonas Gray touchdown run from one yard out.
Well it's missed tackles, it's not gettin' off on third down. Some guys not fittin' things the way we need to fit them, said Edsall concerning his defense's tendency to give up opening-drive scores.
Gray had his way on the ground in the first half, shredding the ACC's last-ranked run defense for 84 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns. Where he really punished the defense however, was on third down. The Irish offense converted on 10 of 16 third downs, compared to Maryland's laughable 3 of 12 conversion rate.
Newly anointed starter, senior cornerback Trenton Hughes, did his best to contain standout senior receiver Michael Floyd in the first half, limiting the 6-foot-3 Floyd to a few short gains. Yet, it didn't take long for Floyd to break out as he hauled in three catches for 67 yards on an early second quarter drive, highlighted by a 19-yard touchdown grab to give Notre Dame a 17-0 lead.
O'Brien got the nod again as the starting quarterback on Saturday night, but he and the Terps' offense looked anything but comfortable under the national spotlight. The first five Maryland possessions resulted in Nick Ferrara punts. It wasn't until their sixth drive, starting with 8:22 in the second quarter, that the ACC's eighth ranked offense got rolling.
After taking over at their own 39-yard line, O'Brien seemed to settle in, hitting on all five pass attempts while driving his team down the field. Two first-down pickups by the rarely seen D.J. Adams gave the offense a lift, and a personal foul on Notre Dame put the Terps in the red zone with a fresh set of downs. It didn't take long then for O'Brien to capitalize, finding a slanting Quintin McCree for a 13-yard touchdown toss and cutting the deficit to 17-7 with about five minutes remaining in the half.
It was quite enough time for Rees to orchestrate another drive down the field however. The sophomore quarterback led a 13-play, 75-yard drive in just under five minutes, finishing off with Jonas Gray's second touchdown run from one yard out to give the Irish a 24-7 lead going into half.
The Irish went right back to work in the third quarter, with Gray and Rees dissecting a tired Maryland defense. After converting on yet another third down, Gray ripped off a 19-yard run into Terps' territory. Shortly thereafter, junior running back Cierre Wood bounced the ball in from three yards out to widen the lead to 31-7.
Then it was time for the Irish defense to get in on the party. A sailing Danny O'Brien pass was plucked out of the air by sophomore cornerback Lo Wood who took the ball 57 yards into the end zone, widening the lead to a 38-7 Irish advantage.
Following the O'Brien injury, Brown took over at quarterback and provided a quick 97-yard touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter, capped by a 24-yard dash into the end zone by the fleet-footed sophomore. But it did nothing to bail the Terps out of the monstrous hole they were in. Brown finished the night throwing for 87 yards on six of ten passing.
Notre Dame tossed a late score in for good measure, as Rees connected with junior tight end Tyler Eifert, one of the handful of Irish players with career nights, for a 34-yard touchdown.
Rees, who at one point had completed 16 of his last 17 passes, ended the day torching the Maryland defense for 296 yards on an outstanding 30 of 38 passing and two touchdowns. We've been running the ball so well, and it's good to see the passing game get back up there tonight, said Rees. I think it is just hats off to everyone on the offensive side, from the coaches on down to the players.
As has become standard in the last few weeks, a running back had another career night against one of the FBS' worst rushing defense as Jonas Gray turned 21 carries into 132 yards and two touchdowns. Cierre Wood added 109 yards and one touchdown on 18 rushes for the Irish.
Notre Dame finished the game with 508 total yards, comprised by a somewhat equal split between passing (38 attempts for 296 yards) and rushing (46 carries for 212 yards).
Maryland ended the game with 364 total yards (145 rushing and 219 passing). D.J. Adams led the Terps' rushing attack, carrying 16 times for 56 yards and one touchdown. Senior receiver Quintin McCree was the high man in receiving, hauling in five catches for 76 yards and one touchdown.
Whatever is left of the season now for the 2-8 Terps, is left in the hands of C.J. O'Brien. It's hard to lose a guy like Danny, said junior left guard Justin Gilbert. He's a good player and he's a leader on the field. But we got C.J. and we all trust C.J. and we're comfortable with him back there. And we'll finish out the last two games with him.
As expected, being embarrassed on national television and falling to an abysmal 2-8 didn't sit well with some of the Maryland players. Turns out, neither did the team's effort. It's very frustrating, said junior Demetrius Hartsfield. It's another loss. And then to lose the way we did. It's like we just gave up.
Maryland (2-8, 1-5 ACC) will head down to Winston-Salem next weekend to take on Wake Forest (5-5, 4-3 ACC). Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m.