CHARLOTTESVILLE, SEPT. 21 -- Virginia Coach George Welsh is getting used to close games. He's had to.

"We've had two two-point plays at the end of games decide who wins," Welsh said today at his weekly news luncheon. "We may be in seven or eight more. If you are going to win six or seven games, you've got to win most of those."

Two weeks ago, Virginia (1-2, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) lost to Maryland, 21-19, when the Cavaliers' two-point try was stopped with about a minute left.

Saturday, Virginia beat Virginia Tech, 14-13, when the Cavaliers smothered a two-point attempt late in the game.

Welsh figures that this week's home game with Duke (3-0, 0-0 ACC) will also be close, although he believes his young defense will have to play well against Duke's sophisticated passing offense.

The Blue Devils average only 130 yards rushing per game, but senior quarterback Steve Slayden already has passed for 805 yards -- and seven touchdowns. He is completing 55 percent of his passes.

"I think it's going to be a test for the pass rush," Welsh said. "Nobody is going to hold up {in the secondary} if you give the other team a lot of time."

Since giving up 394 yards to Georgia in its season opener, the Cavaliers defense practiced mostly defending against the run. As a result, Virginia allowed just 124 rushing yards to Virginia Tech..

But a free-wheeling passing attack will present different problems. Both of Virginia's starting cornerbacks -- Tony Covington of Winston-Salem, N.C., and Keith McMeans of Virginia Beach -- are redshirt freshmen.

All of the defensive linemen -- Chris Stearns of Fairfax, Ron Carey of Richmond and Joe Hall of Fort Washington, Md. -- also are redshirt freshmen.

Welsh said it makes little difference to Duke whether teams blitz or keep eight men in the secondary for coverage. "Other teams have played coverage on them, but when they've blitzed they've gotten burned," Welsh said.

Duke frequently uses a one-back offense, and Welsh noted it allows them to get four receivers into the secondary very quickly.

Duke also distributes its passes. Wide receivers Clarkston Hines and Doug Green and tailback Roger Boone each have 12 catches.