More than a day later, after studying and reliving the game, the emotions of Navy's football coach, Gary Tranquill, were as evenly divided as his team's 28-28 tie with Pitt.

"From where we came, it was a hell of a comeback," Tranquill said yesterday. "But we had two opportunities to win at the end, and that's a little depressing.

"I think the players have the same mixed emotions, too.

"But I hope they know that they can play with a team of very good athletes. We've got a similar situation coming up next week. I think our guys will go in not afraid of those people."

The people Tranquill was referring to were the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, whom the Midshipmen play Saturday in East Rutherford, N.J.

Tranquill, when asked if he would rather Notre Dame had lost to Louisiana State instead of ending its losing streak at three on Saturday with a 30-22 victory, said, "I'm not sure."

But Tranquill said he was sure about one thing: "Notre Dame is a good football team, regardless of what (reporters) say. I think they're well coached."

Many people would disagree with Tranquill on that, despite Notre Dame's victory at LSU. The Irish (4-4) are like Pitt (1-6-1), in that both teams have a lot of talented players who haven't played up to their potential.

What most people would agree on is that Bill Byrne, the Navy quarterback, has kept the Midshpmen respectable even after the season-ending injury to tailback Napoleon McCallum.

Byrne, after passing for a school-record 340 yards, was named ECAC rookie of the week for the second straight time.

He threw four interceptions at Pittsburgh, but two were off his own receivers hands.

And Byrne led Navy's last two scoring drives within a 13-second span of the final minute of play that brought about a tie after his team had trailed, 28-14, late in the fourth quarter.

"He made some great throws in some tough situations," Tranquill said, adding that he never planned on passing as much as the team is doing now.

Tranquill said he spent most of his meeting time with the players critiquing the performance against Pitt, "and talked about Notre Dame for only about five minutes."

In College Park, Maryland Coach Bobby Ross said he will talk to team physicians, trainers and his coaching staff before deciding whether Frank Reich's throwing shoulder has recovered 100 percent from the mild separation it suffered a month ago.

"We think Frank came out of the (Duke) game fine as far as the shoulder is concerned," Ross said.

"We have to be convinced that his arm is at full strength."

Stan Gelbaugh completed 10 of 12 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns in Maryland's 43-7 victory at Duke.

Ross said he would like to decide on a starting quarterback by today. Earlier, he had said that the job was Reich's when the fifth-year senior recovered fully from his injury.

Otherwise, the Terrapins rested after their lopsided Atlantic Coast Conference victory. Ross said several players may return for Saturday's game at North Carolina, including defensive guard Tommy Parker (ankle), defensive back Joe Kraus (hamstring) and linebacker Pat D'Atri (hamstring).

But right defensive guard Greg Thompson injured a knee -- the extent of which will be determined this week -- and will be out indefinitely, Ross said.

Ross was especially pleased with his defense, which had five sacks against Duke, and particularly with sophomore tackle Ted Chapman, who recorded two of those sacks, an interception and two tackles for loss of yardage, among other things.

It's difficult to come to any strong conclusions off a game against forlorn Duke. But Maryland is a much better team now than it was four weeks ago.

"Right now, we're in good shape considering the rebuilding we had to do," Ross said.

"I feel like we have made quite a bit of improvement. We're not making the mistakes we were making. And we're coming off the ball much better. I think we're just getting better through work."

Virginia, after having Saturday off, will begin preparation for West Virginia, which beat Penn State Saturday for the first time since 1955, 17-14.

A victory in the nonconference game would substantially bolster Virginia's bowl chances.