Kevin Ferguson, who played eight games last year at flanker, will be Virginia's starting quarterback in Saturday night's opening game against Clemson, Coach George Welsh announced today.

Ferguson edged fellow sophomore Don Majkowski for the starting position, Welsh said at his weekly news conference. Ferguson said he knew the coaching staff had been leaning his way: "All last week I worked with the No. 1 team."

Clemson, which never has lost to Virginia in 23 games, began its 1984 fall campaign Saturday with a 40-7 drubbing of Appalachian State.

Welsh, entering his third season in Charlottesville with the objective of improving on last year's 6-5 record, said it was difficult to pick between the two quarterbacks.

"It wasn't an either-or situation," said Welsh. "He won the job. But it was very close. Kevin had a little better passing percentage, fewer interceptions, but that wasn't all. It was the whole ball of wax."

Welsh examined the performance of the players during preseason scrimmages to come up with his decision. Welsh said he had been leaning toward Ferguson, a 6-foot-3, 209-pound player from Appomattox, since the team's last scrimmage Wednesday. The final decision was not reached until the weekend.

"There's definitely some pressure there," Ferguson said. "But come Saturday I hope I'll be able to put all that behind me and do what I have to do."

The nod to Ferguson does not necessarily send Majkowski to the sidelines for the year. Welsh said it was "a strong possibility" that Majkowski, a 6-2, 200-pounder from Fork Union Military Academy, would play. "I told Kevin we wouldn't pull him if he made mistakes early," said Welsh. "We want to get him playing time. But I would say there is a strong possibility that Majkowski will play some too . . ."