CHARLOTTESVILLE, SEPT. 10 -- Coach George Welsh's general mindset in the wake of Virginia's landmark 20-7 victory over Clemson Saturday can hardly be described as optimistic.

The No. 11 Cavaliers (2-0, 1-0 ACC) defeated the Tigers for the first time in the 30-game series, and their remaining schedule includes eight teams they defeated last season -- by a combined 308-150.

Welsh's passing attack has almost equaled his ground game in yardage, and a defense that includes three new linebackers has surrendered just two touchdowns in two games. But his chief concern stems from a revamped Navy squad that faces Virginia here on Saturday.

Navy defeated Richmond, 28-17, Saturday in its first game under Coach George Chaump. Senior Alton Grizzard passed for 258 yards and three touchdowns, giving Navy an air attack that strikes a stark contrast to the run-oriented styles of Clemson and Kansas, Virginia's first opponent.

"They're a good-looking football team," said Welsh, 55-46-1 at Navy before leaving for Virginia in 1982. "You don't know what's coming. This is our third straight opening game the way I feel about it."

Welsh's main goal in preseason practice was his defense, which looked less than imposing last season as a veteran unit, but has looked impressive so far this year, with a young front line and veteran secondary. Freshman linebacker P.J. Killian has a team-high 21 tackles, followed by tackle Don Reynolds, a converted end who re-corded 14 tackles Saturday.

"If you look at our roster and if everybody were healthy, you would say that if we get good linebacker play we could have a better defensive team than we've had in years," Welsh said. "That still remains the key."

Safety Keith McMeans, who missed the Clemson game, is questionable for Navy. Defensive end Chris Slade, who reinjured his ankle in the first half Saturday but stayed in the game, is expected to play.

Players talked openly about an undefeated season before preseason drills. Slade saw Clemson as the only major stumbling block, albeit a conquerable one, and gauged the prospect of a perfect record as more reality than pipe dream.

Welsh unknowingly started the hype last November in a pre-Citrus Bowl news conference. Queried on the success of his program, the normally reserved coach waxed prophetic, envisioning a time "some year in the '90s," when Virginia could go 11-0 and contend for a national title.

With that prospect now looming large, Welsh retreated to his taciturn approach today, dismissing such notions as dangerous, and citing as evidence the TV shots he saw Saturday of a Miami lineman shaking his head in disbelief on the sideline as the top-ranked Hurricanes fell to Brigham Young. "It happens all the time, especially early in the season," Welsh said. " . . . Right now {my goal} is to beat Navy. I'm not going beyond that or getting into anything else. It would be a big mistake."

Even Slade, who predicted a victory over Clemson, has taken a cue from Welsh and adopted a more level-headed approach. "Anything's possible. We feel like we can play with anybody," he said. "But right now we just want to concentrate on Navy."

The Midshipmen's only winning season after Welsh left was in 1983, when Gary Tranquill led Navy to a 6-5 record. The team was 4-6-1 a year later, and has averaged only three wins a year since, although it defeated Virginia in 1985 and 1986. Elliot Uzelac replaced Tranquill after the 1987 season, and Tranquill joined Welsh's staff as quarterbacks coach.

"I didn't anticipate any major decline," Welsh said. "The margin of victory is very small there."