If Maryland needed a visceral reminder of its first and only win over Florida State, it came on Monday evening, when Joel Statham walked onto the practice field as the team's number one quarterback.
Starter Sam Hollenbach sat out the early part of the week because of an injury to his non-throwing shoulder and was limited in the latter part of the week, with Coach Ralph Friedgen delivering a daily message that went something like this: "We'll see how he is tomorrow."
And while they were waiting for tomorrow, which will finally come today, the Terps were left with Statham, who led them to that groundbreaking win over the Seminoles 364 days ago before ultimately losing his job to Hollenbach.
For the Terps (4-3), whose season will be judged by their final four results, this unsettled week has thus presented two main questions:
Has the quarterback uncertainty -- third-stringer Jordan Steffy also was in the practice mix -- affected the preparation for a game in which they will be bigger underdogs than any other? And if Statham plays, will he be the quarterback who led last year's upset or the player who looked bewildered through much of that season?
First, then, the uncertainty. Offensive players and coaches have insisted their preparation is identical regardless of who is playing quarterback, and that the game plan would not be affected.
"I don't really think about who's back there," center Ryan McDonald said. "I've got my own assignments. I have to worry about myself."
Hollenbach began throwing Wednesday, in some pain and with his shoulder heavily wrapped. "He looked like a mummy out there," offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe said.
He received several hours of treatment a day, using a whirlpool and throwing in the water, and his shoulder was improved by Thursday. Both Friedgen and his quarterback said the injury could not get worse, and that the primary concern is whether Hollenbach can play through the pain.
"I'm not going to play him if I think he could get hurt worse," Friedgen said. "And I want to make sure he's able to be functional, too. If he can't function, I'm not going to put him in the game."
The junior was injured as he was tackled in the first quarter of last week's game against Virginia Tech. And while he completed four of his next five throws, he finished with his worst statistics of the season. This week, the normally loquacious Hollenbach declined to discuss that game and said he was preparing as if he would be the starter today.
"I really just want to do the right thing for the team right now," Hollenbach said. "I really hope, I really hope that I can be there and do the best that I can and be 100 percent."
If not, the attention would turn to Statham, who has completed three of the six passes he has thrown this season. Offensive teammates said they had full faith in Statham, that he seemed confident and that his skills were indistinguishable from Hollenbach's.
"They're both great quarterbacks; one's taller and one's shorter, and one's the starter and one's second string," wide receiver Jo Jo Walker said. Hollenbach is 6 feet 5 and Statham is 6-2.
Said wide receiver Danny Melendez, "We practice with both of those guys, and whoever it is, I'll be confident that they're ready."
But such statements almost defy belief, after Statham's late-season struggles last year led to the ascendance of Hollenbach. In his first year as the starter, Hollenbach has made his share of poor decisions -- throwing at least one interception in six of his seven starts -- but Statham was virtually defined by his errors last year.
Statham's game work this season has been limited to mop-up duty in the fourth quarter against Temple. It was raining, and he was surrounded by reserves, but the results were nevertheless ominous: one sack, two fumbles and three completions in six attempts.
Coaches and teammates, though, have consistently praised Statham's attitude, saying that he never sulked after losing his job and never became disinterested in practice. And this week, they have lauded his performance; Friedgen said Statham ran a two-minute drill Thursday evening better than he ever had before.
"Very sharp, made great decisions, seemed very comfortable," Friedgen said.
Like everyone else during this murky week of preparation, Statham has been frequently reminded about his performance against the Seminoles a year ago: 333 passing yards, a rushing touchdown, a passing touchdown and a win.
"That's all the coaches have been talking about, too, just telling me to do it again," he said. "So hopefully I'll be able to do that if I get a chance to play."