CHARLOTTESVILLE, SEPT. 24 -- Things have been going so well for the Virginia Cavaliers lately that Coach George Welsh, who said last week he is "never happy during the season," has taken to comparing his seventh-ranked team with NFL squads -- but only to illustrate how far his team still has to travel.
"I don't want people to get carried away and think we're the San Francisco 49ers reincarnated in college football," Welsh said today at his weekly news conference. "We're 4-0 -- we can still be 4-7. . . . It's too early. You don't know who's good and who isn't."
So far the Cavaliers (4-0, 2-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) have looked very good, averaging 49 points and 532 yards of offense a game. A starting defense with two linemen hobbling through the first month and three new linebackers has allowed only one touchdown while forcing 16 turnovers.
A common mind-set of perfection has taken root, brought on by a nearly flawless performance against Duke Saturday and the prospect of the first undefeated season in the program's 102-year history.
"You're never going to be perfect," quarterback Shawn Moore said, "but if you shoot for that goal, you're going to be successful."
Moore, notoriously self-critical, insists he has yet to put together a complete game, although his statistics show otherwise, launching him to the top of the Heisman Trophy leader board with Brigham Young quarterback Ty Detmer. Moore has been responsible for a touchdown every 8.3 plays, remarkable considering Detmer averages a touchdown every 15.4 plays and last year's winner, quarterback Andre Ware of Houston, was responsible for one every 12.8.
"Shawn Moore's getting graded out at 90 percent every week and that's about as good as you're going to get," Welsh said. "He's too hard on himself. . . . He's creating touchdowns. What could be better than that?"
Moore threw for three touchdowns and rushed for a fourth against Duke before leaving in the third quarter of the Cavaliers' 59-0 win. The early exits have become commonplace for Moore, with Virginia outscoring opponents, 194-31, including 110-7 in the first half.
The Cavaliers seemingly validated their disputed ACC title of a year ago, defeating Clemson for the first time in the 35-year, 30-game series three weeks ago, and walloping Duke, which shared the ACC championship with Virginia last year.
The Cavaliers defeated their remaining seven 1990 opponents last season, although ugly memories remain from last year's game with this week's foe -- Division I-AA William and Mary.
Last season three Virginia starters were injured in a 24-12 win over the Tribe (2-1), who won here in 1986 and lost two years ago after leading at halftime.
"They just play well and execute against us," Welsh said. "They always show up and do things we haven't prepared for."
Moore suffered a bruised shoulder during last season's game after a hit from cornerback J.D. Gibbs -- the son of Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs -- and missed the next game against Clemson. Don Reynolds, then a defensive end, sprained an ankle and missed the next four games; starting tailback Marcus Wilson was sidelined for a week with a hip pointer; backup tailback Terry Kirby was lost for three games with bruised ribs; and reserve linebacker Yusef Jackson missed the rest of the season with a sprained knee.
Welsh worried during the preseason that his squad might overlook some opponents, although the results thus far -- a 59-10 victory at Kansas and a 56-14 win here over Navy -- eased those fears at least temporarily.
We probably worry more about these games than any others," defensive tackle Joe Hall said. "That's what makes Virginia football so good."
Shawn Moore was named ACC offensive back of the week, Herman Moore receiver of the week and Trevor Ryals offensive lineman of the week.