Virginia's 1984 football season, which was highlighted by the Cavaliers' first bowl appearance, was memorable in many ways. So memorable that Coach George Welsh wants his players to forget it ever happened.

"They're still talking about the Peach Bowl last year, but all that talk better be behind us," he said. "We need to forget last year and work hard."

Virginia defeated Purdue in the New Year's Eve bowl game in Atlanta, 27-24, and ended 8-2-2 and ranked in the top 20 in every major poll. That finish, with seven starters returning on offense and five on defense, puts the pressure on the Cavaliers and puts Welsh a little on the uneasy side.

"We have to be careful because we've never been in a position where we've been expected to do so well," he said. "There's no history or tradition here. I'm going to tell them during the preseason that it just won't happen again because you're the same people."

On offense, some of those same people are junior quarterback Don Majkowski, tailbacks Howard Petty and Barry Word, wide receiver John Ford and tackle Jim Dombrowski.

"The offense has to carry us early until the defense comes around," Welsh said. Linebackers Charles McDaniel, the school's all-time leader in tackles (340) and an all-ACC selection, and Russ Swan return, as do defensive ends Scott Hillman and Sean Scott.

Majkowski became the starter in the sixth game last year. He completed 49 percent of his passes for 1,235 yards and eight touchdowns. He threw nine interceptions, but only one in the last five regular season games. He also rushed for 305 yards and five touchdowns.

Petty, the team's leading rusher the last two seasons, and Word will share time at tailback. Antonio Rice, from McKinley Tech in Washington, should start at fullback, although he will miss the Sept. 14 opener with VMI because of a dislocated left shoulder.

Dombrowski (6 feet 3, 296 pounds) was one of the primary reasons the Cavaliers ranked 17th nationally in rushing offense (231.1 yards per game) last season. He was a second-team all-America in 1984.

The 1984 rookie of the year in the ACC, Ford, will start at wide receiver. Exceptionally fast, Ford averaged 28.7 yards per catch and caught seven scoring passes.

By most accounts, Maryland is expected to finish atop the Atlantic Coast Conference a third straight year, with Clemson and Virginia close behind.

To challenge Maryland, which the Cavaliers play the day after Thanksgiving on national TV, Virginia's offense must produce as it did last year, when it averaged 29.8 points and 411 yards over the last 10 games.

"I think the offense will still be good," Welsh said. "We have good size, speed, and we have enough depth except at center and tight end."

As positive as last season was, it began on an embarrassing negative -- a 55-0 home loss to Clemson. "(Our defense in) the Clemson game was a fluke last year," Welsh said. "The defense came around after that game and played like it was capable of until the Maryland game (a 45-34 Terrapins victory)."

There were eight games between those two losses, and Virginia won six and tied two, against Georgia Tech and North Carolina.

This year, the Cavaliers will try to do it all over again against the same competition. Their schedule includes the same 11 regular-season games, in different order. At least Clemson won't be first. The Tigers will be host to Virginia Oct. 12.

"Virginia has never beaten Clemson, and that's one thing we'd like to correct this year," Welsh said. "And we haven't beaten Maryland since I've been here."

Still so wary of last year's success, Welsh has set only modest goals.

"We're only talking about a winning season right now, six wins," he said. "It would be our third winning season in a row and it's been a long time since a Virginia team has done that."

Since 1950-52, to be exact.