In his second game as a collegiate football player, Brian Shumock started at quarterback for the University of Virginia against Texas.

The final score was 68-0. Virginia had the zero.

"When we went down there that year, we didn't go in thinking we were going to beat Texas," Shumock said today. "We knew we couldn't. We were a pitiful team back then. We went down there for a social experience, to see the place.

"If we went back there now, we'd go back looking to win, not to have a social experience."

Virginia football has come a long way in the four years since Shumock, who has been starting defensive back the last three seasons, and his fellow seniors were freshmen. Back then, Coach Dick Bestwick was in his second year of trying to turn the program from ridiculous to respectable.

Now, even though the Cavaliers will take a 4-6 record into Saturday's finale here with Maryland, that has been achieved. In the last two years, UVA, 6-5 last season, has been competitive in all except one game. That is a major accomplishment.

"When I first got here, we just went out and hoped we could play okay," said junior safety Pat Chester. "Now, we go out thinking we should win, that we can play with anyone."

Chester, an articulate sociology major with a droll sense of humor, is a prime example of the way Bestwick has built this program. In most major programs, Chester would be an outcast. He openly admits he does not love football, that it is merely a part of his existence, not the end at all.

"No way I could have played at a place like Maryland," he said. "When I visited there, the players told me if I wasn't ready to live in a police state, I'd better go somewhere else.

"I couldn't deal with all those rules and all the time they demand. I like to play the game. I try to make it a challenge and fun. But when I walk away from the field, I just want to go somewhere and relax, be myself.

"I couldn't have hacked the pressure there. At Maryland, if you don't produce, you're in trouble. Here, it's different."

Example: after the Cavaliers' worst loss in two years, a 30-0 embarrassment at the hands of Virginia Tech, Bestwick called his team together the next day and told the players that he was giving them Monday off to rest, would have light practices all week to let them recover from their bumps and bruises.

"I told them, though that it was their team, and what finally came out of this season was strictly up to them," he said. "If they wanted to come back, they could. If they didn't, we wouldn't. It was in their hands."

The Cavaliers responded by upsetting Wake Forest and Tennessee on the road, then losing to Rutgers, 19-17, on a missed field goal in the last minute. "Coach Bestwick doesn't yell or scream," said defensive tackle Stuart Anderson, probably the team's best athlete. "He just lets you know he has pride and he expects you to have some, too."

UVA entered the season with hopes of obtaining a bowl bid.Last-minute losses to Clemson and Rutgers eliminated that possibility. But the 1980 team is better than the 1979 team. And the 1981 team is expected to be better than this one.

"People don't realize how you build a program," Shumock said. "This is really only the second year we've had four full classes here. It's taken that long just to get that far.

"To build a winner, you have to get the coach, then get the players, then the facilities, then win a few big games.We've done all that. We won at Georgia, we won at Tennessee. We've been able to go from pitiful to pretty good but we haven't gotten off that pretty good plateau yet.

"Right now, we've got the right equation. We just haven't come up with the correct sum yet."

Bestwick remains convinced that what was once considered impossible -- a consistent winner at Virginia -- is possible in the near future.

"It may a little harder to do here, but it can certainly be done," he said. "A lot of people said we could never be competitive, but we are. People don't overlook us anymore, they're prepared to play us. We're treated like a real football team now. That's progress."

This team that may be two great players away from the top of the ACC -- a quarterback who can consistently make the big play of offense, and a linebacker to make the big hit on defense. The rest is already there.

Bestwick has been laying the groundwork for five years now, starting from the very bottom. He has never beaten Maryland, but Saturday, win or lose, the Terps will know they have been in a football game.

"The difference is simple," said Shumock, one of 16 seniors who will be playing their final games Saturday. "When we go out there Saturday, we'll be trying to win. When I first got here, we were just trying to survive."