After Maryland was upset, 24-16, by West Virginia on Saturday, Terps linebacker Brad Carr walked the streets alone until dawn.
"I feel miserable when we lose," said Carr. "Something dies inside me."
As he walked, thought and stayed out hours past curfew, Carr wondered if something had died within the Maryland defense. Last season, it had been magnificent, ranked second in the nation against scoring, giving up an average of only 7.7 points a games, shutting out three opponents and repeatedly coming up with the big play.
This season, it came up with the big yawn.
Carr and other members of the defense say they have been sufficiently embarrassed, that their complacency is no longer a theory and they hope this realization ignires the old flame in time for the Penn State game Saturday.
Defensive tackle Ernie Salley thinks he sees promising signs.
"There have been fights in practice this week I had a little one myself yesterday," said Salley, holding up a band of taped fingers. "I jumped off-side and knocked a guy on his butt. On a later play, he cllpped me and I asked him if he was crazy. He's a freshman - I don't know his name. I started swinging and swinging and I didn't stop until they pulled me off.
"Everyone's getting mean, you know? That's what we need."
Carr added, "We had a couple fiights, good ones, because everyone's ticked off. It's like a self-punishment."
Besides slugging at teammates' helmets, the defense also has held extr meetings, without coaches present. The results have been so encouraging that Salley says, "I know we're going to beat them (Penn State)".
Salley made a critical switch from guard to one to the two empty tackle spots and says he has been playing tentatively, trying to avoid mistakes.
"I haven't done anything tragic, but I haven't turned loose either," said Salley. "As a guard I could turn it loose. Our defense works on big plays and one of the big-play people used to be me. I would trap guys in the backfield, stuff like that. I've only made one big play in two games.
"Now I've got to forget about making mistakes and go to the ball.
"Our goal this year was to be the No. 1 defense in the natiion against scoring. People have run on us, thrown on us - we're embarrassed.
"I think our defense should be even better than last year's.
Lost from last year's starting lineup are both tackles, including All-America Joe Campbell, Jlinebacker Mike Miller and left halfback Ken Roy.
But the replacements were expected to be strong enough and experienced enough for the defensive coaching staff to expect a year comparable or better than 1976.
Neal Olkewicz, who started one game last year, had filled in admirbly at Miller's left linebacker spot. Olewicz led the team in tackles with 14 in the opening victory against Clemson and is apparently looking forward to the Penn State game. His shirt reads across the front "Beat Penn State." Olkewicz, 6-foot and 213 pounds, sis from Spring City, Pa., but Penn State rejected him. "They said I was too small."
Olkewicz, who feels his strength complements Carr's quickness, once fancied himself a baseball player but opted for football," I guess because of the hitting." His game has improved significantly from the days when Olkewicz say, "I ran around and hit anyone I saw. Now I know where to be and why I'm there."
Olkewicz has a tatoo of a rattle-teaming with the much-publicized Carr. "Everybody worries about him and I can sneak by. Other teams probably don't spend too much time on me."
Olkewicz has a tatoo of a rattles-snake on his left bicep and is majoring in law enforcement. "I want to be some sort of cop," said Olkewicz. "I think I'd be good at it."
Carr would be first one to agree that the duties are similar.Thought by some to be the most talent player on the team, Carr says he prefers playing defense "because the offense is like someone trying to get in your house. I like to stop people from doing wrong things, make beeter persons out of people."
Carr noticed a lot of West Virginia Mountaineers running around his "house" Saturday.
"It's definitely mental when you don't give 100 per cent. We were relaxing. I guess," said Carr. "We thought we could go out there and stand there and everyone would fall in front of our faces. I think we're past it now."
Carr's shirt reads "Pennsylvania." It is and old all-star jersey and he wore it for a specific reason. "I haven't done my laundry," he said.
On the six man defensive line, AII-ACC Larry Seder and Ted Klaube (described by Carr as "having a lot of wisdom" and by Salley as "the hardest working guy on our team and a nut") start at the guards, with Bruce Palmer in reserve.
Klaube, says defensive back Doug Harbert, "has by far outshone the rest of us. He has just been unbelievable."
Salley finds Klaube makes a tackle," said Salley, "he gets up and laughs, kind of a Three Stooges yuk-yuk-yuk. He's not a great athlete. But he goes crazy while the rest of us are half-stepping, waiting for someone else to do something. He's really and exciting person."
To Klaube's right is new starting tackle Charlie Johnson, who is 6-2 and 250. The lease-experienced player is right end Jim Schaffer, a sophomore. At left end is returning starter Chip Garber.
The backfield is deep in experience. Lloyd Burruss, a know hard-hitter who admires Oakland's George Atkinson, "because he's so mean," filled in for the injured Harbert last year at right halfback. This season, Harbert is back at the right. Burruss moves to the left (where Roy was) and already this year has been called for spearing and has broken an opponent's collar bone.
"I like to get respect," said Burruss.
"Lloyd gets a receiver's attention," said Harbert. "He'll knock you head off."
Harbert said feels he and safety Jonathon Caliborne are similar players, who rely not as much a size and strength as on brains.
Burruss 6-1, 193 is the only brute in this group, and Harbert notes that. "I don't think any of us have played well.
"This week, we have to go out and do it."