Neil O'Donnell said it felt a bit awkward and Dan Henning said it felt a bit odd. The two Maryland quarterbacks changed places for yesterday's workout, with O'Donnell moving from the second team to the first and Henning moving from the first to the second.

No pomp, no circumstance, but move they did, and unless there is an unforeseen change of events -- such as an injury or a complete collapse by O'Donnell in practice -- O'Donnell will make his first collegiate start Saturday against North Carolina at Byrd Stadium.

"I'm ready to go," said O'Donnell, a redshirt sophomore from Madison, N.J., who came off the bench and rallied the Terrapins to a 23-22 victory over Duke Saturday. "Right before our meeting, Coach {Jim} Cavanaugh {the offensive coordinator} told me I was going to start and that I deserved the job."

Henning said he was informed of the change in a meeting with Coach Joe Krivak yesterday morning.

"My mom always told me that if I didn't have anything good to say about something then I shouldn't say anthing at all," Henning said very calmly after practice when asked for his opinion of the change.

"I can't ignore what happened," Krivak said of O'Donnell's performance. "So we've got to give him a shot. But nothing is etched in stone. It's still a game of performance. When a guy performs you've got to go with him."

Monday workouts are normally without pads and designed to get out the kinks while going over the scouting report for the next opponent. The first thing Maryland does in those practices, with the entire offensive and defensive units, is the two-minute drill, with each unit getting a turn. For the first time in 19 game weeks, Henning stood and watched the first team with arms folded, not entirely sure what he should be doing.

"It felt a little odd," Henning said. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel odd. But we do everything twice and I got my turn. I'm going to be ready."

Said O'Donnell, "It was a little awkward but I got used to it."

Of his demotion Henning said, "I have nothing to do with the decision that was made . . . What I can do is work that much harder in practice and try to catch their eye . . . Football is very important to me, but it's not the only thing in my life. It's disappointing, but I just have to work harder."

O'Donnell said he didn't expect any hard feeling between him and Henning.

"Dan and I are great friends," O'Donnell said. "We don't want to make this into a soap opera."

O'Donnell, who completed 23 of 33 passes for 293 yards, one interception, one very important touchdown and two deciding two-point conversions in Saturday's win, didn't celebrate after the game. He went out for dinner with his parents, he said.

While he says he's excited about being given the start, he said he probably would wait for his normal Thursday conversation with his parents to tell them of his news.

"Oh, it's a big deal," he said. "It's my first start in college. But I don't want to let the hoopla take away from my performance. I'm excited, no doubt about it. But you have to be mentally ready. You can't let your emotions affect what you do on the field."

Maryland Notes: Guard Richard Nelson, who tore a cartilage in his right knee last Wednesday, underwent arthroscopic surgery yesterday. Trainer J.J. Bush had said that Nelson would likely need at least three weeks to return to action.