Virginia, a perennial patsy in recent years, finally got a taste of what it's like to be the punisher instead of the punished today, burying hapless Richmond, 31-0, in the season opener at Scott Stadium.

The Cavaliers had not won an opener since 1973 and have not won more than two games in one season since 1974. But this was a day for optimism for the crowd of 29,673 as Greg Taylor rushed for 149 yards and scored three touchdowns and the Cavaliers left the Spiders trapped in their own web.

"We've worked 3 1/2 years to get to this point," Virginia Coach Dick Bestwick said, "and I'd be very disappointed it we don't go on and become a very good football team.

"It took us a long time to get where we are, but we have a tough football team. We're strong and we're physical. We are not the typical Virginia football team."

Richmond is hardly a powerhouse, but the Cavaliers still enjoyed one of their best days in recent years.

They outgained the Spiders in yards, 430-133, and Richmond never mounted a serious scoring threat. The 31 points were the most Virginia has scored in a game since 1974 and the victory was its most lopsided since a 49-10 defeat of VMI in 1970.

Taylor, ironically a Richmond native, Typified the explosiveness of the Cavalier's attack.

He took a pitchout from quarterback Todd Kirtley, picked up blocks from Ted Marchibroda (the Colt coach's son) and Vincent Mattox to get him around the corner, then after tightroping down the sideline for a few yards raced a total of 36 yards for the first Virginia touchdown late in the first quarter.

After a 36-yard Wayne Morrison field goal in the second period, Taylor burst off tackle, cut back over the middle and ran 47 yards for his second touchdown.

His third score came on a two-yard run in the third period and the final Virginia touchdown was a 12-yard run by Will Hummel with one minute left to play.

"I've been waiting a long time for a day like this," said Taylor, a 5-foot-9 181-pound junior. "There was a time here when people didn't believe we could win, but we've joined together now. We have confidence in ourselves and it's showing."

Richmond got into trouble at the very beginning. The Spiders were called offside on their first play and penalized for illegal procedure on their second. It was downhill from there.

The Spiders' best defensive lineman, 250-pound Mark Seale, twisted his knee in the first quarter and did not play anymore.

They lost their biggest offensive threat, tailback Jesse Williams, in the second quarter when they were down only 7-0.

Williams had just taken a pitchout from quarterback James Short when he was leveled by Virginia strong safety Tony Blount. Williams was taken to University Hospital with a sprained neck. The injury is not serious, the Richmond team doctor said after precuationary X-rays were taken.

Blount hit Williams after diving over a would-be Richmond blocker, and buried his helmet in Williams' face before Williams could turn upfield. The play lost five yards. For the afternoon, Blount made four tackles that accounted for 19 yards in losses.

Richmond came up with some wild plays for the 10th largest crowd ever at Scott Stadium. For example, Short completed one pass that lost seven yards and on another occasion punter Kevin Wolf raced upfield to down his own 15-yard punt.

"We never got into it," said Richmond Coach Jim Tait. "Virginia played a tremendous football game and we got unnerved early and gave them momentum."

Based on today's game, Virginia's quarterback troubles may be over, too. Sophomore Kintley, from Robinson High in Fairfax, completed 11 of 19 passes for 103 yards, was not intercepted and played what Bestwick called "a near perfect game."

Kirtley did cause a scare late in the game when he twisted his right knee. Bestwick said the extent of the injury will not be known until Sunday, but it did not appear to be serious and Kirtley should be available next week.

The Cavaliers' opponent next Saturday is Atlantic Coast Conference power North Carolina State.

The Cavaliers warmed up in their ususal blue jerseys, but came out in bright orange ones for the game, marking the first time since the mid-1950s they had worn that color.

"It really gave us a lift," Bestwick said. "It got us pumped up."