It was difficult for Frank Reich to get into the cycle of the football week yesterday. He wanted to forget about the blunders -- his own and those of his Maryland teammates -- in Saturday's 23-7 opening loss to Syracuse and look ahead to Vanderbilt.

"Yes, I've had a lot of reflections, a lot of nightmares," said Reich, the starting quarterback, managing a smile. "There were times during the game that I lost my confidence. And a quarterback can't afford to do that.

"That's what happened to me in the second half. I started holding back, like the time (in the fourth quarter) when I had Greg Hill open down the sideline and threw short. If I had my confidence I would have put it up there, just like in practice."

In the first quarter, Reich did play as if it were practice. He completed his first four passes, including a 14-yarder to Hill for a touchdown.

But near the end of the half, with Maryland driving for at least a field goal attempt, Reich threw an interception, even though Hill was fairly open. That pass, Reich felt, started his slip in confidence.

"You're going to have your interceptions," he said. "All quarterbacks do. They didn't score after the one I threw at the end of the first half, but for some reason it still affected me.

"At halftime I tried to tell myself, 'They didn't get any points, so go back out there in the second half and do your thing.' "

But Reich completed only one of six passes in the third quarter. He later threw an interception that led to a Syracuse field goal and had a fumble that led to a Syracuse touchdown.

Still, Reich's passing wasn't as bad as he made it sound. He completed 14 of 25 attempts.

And he did find something positive to carry through this week of practice and into the Vanderbilt game Saturday at Byrd Field. "I learned a lot Saturday, the ups and downs of emotions during a football game," he said. "I think I can use that to my advantage this coming week."

The one thing he still couldn't understand yesterday was the five turnovers by an offense that had looked so fluid during preseason workouts.

"I still can't give you an explanation," Reich said. "The tough thing is that losing is such a bitter taste. I don't want to walk off the field Saturday feeling like I did two days ago.

"It's like touching an electrical fence; you do whatever you have to do to avoid touching it again," he said. "The way to forget about last week is to win this week. Sometimes I personally have a hard time forgetting something like this. You put so much into it, it hurts.

"We have to go out and concentrate this week and do what we're supposed to."

Several players, Reich included, said they felt the team let down both Coach Bobby Ross and the young defensive linemen who played very well at crucial times, particularly in goal-line situations.

Linebacker Eric Wilson, one of the cocaptains, said he felt no need to call a team meeting. "Guys have been talking among themselves," Wilson said. "I see some of the older guys consoling the younger players.

"Coach Ross pointed out to us last night that we have to iron out the turnovers, and some of them were mental. We just have to go back to what we've been doing all along, and try to forget last week.

"I know that's easy to say, but what you do is try to practice harder, really concentrate on now, pushing yourself. I've said before, 'Hey look, it was one of those days. Let's get ourselves together.'

"We're not accepting the loss. But we are realizing what happened."