Go ahead and gripe, Virginia faithful. Your Cavaliers gift-wrapped plenty of ammunition Saturday night.
But when you haven't won a football game in more than 10 months, booted your poet-laureate coach and last beat Duke three years ago, take anything you can get.
Virginia 34, Richmond 13.
Yes, it was ragged. And no, a certain band of Trojans isn't quaking in their Nikes.
But consider a few things.
Championship Subdivision pedigree aside, Richmond is not a pushover. Heck, the Cavaliers poached the Spiders' head coach, Mike London, for their very own after he guided Richmond to the 2008 national title and a 2009 playoff quarterfinal.
Moreover, Spiders quarterback Aaron Corp is a Southern California transfer — only a leg injury prevented him from beating out Matt Barkley for the starting job last season — and he was throwing into a secondary absent starting cornerback Ras-I Dowling and safety Rodney McLeod.
And after last season's 3-9 nosedive, which cost Al Groh his coaching gig and prompted his bizarre, copycatted-from-Bill-Parcells poetry reading, fans couldn't have expected a seamless opener.
Nor did they get it.
"We're not world beaters," London said with a smile.
Indeed, Dontrelle Inman's lost fumble, and two missed field goals, one each by Robert Randolph and Chris Hinkebein, and a sack of Marc Verica doomed four drives.
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor temporarily forgot how the Cavaliers steamrolled the Spiders on the opening possession, when Perry Jones had runs of 38 and 5 yards, and Keith Payne rumbled for 10 and a 2-yard touchdown, the first of his four scores.
But a year after squandering its opener against William and Mary, Virginia owned the second half, outscoring Richmond 20-3.
Payne (114) and Jones (73) combined for 187 yards rushing, Verica threw for 283 (210 to Inman and Kris Burd), and LaRoy Reynolds had three tackles for loss, plus a stuffing of Kendall Gaskins on a third-quarter fourth-and-1.
"For the most part, London said, "I was satisfied."
The Cavaliers, he added, were aiming "to play a game (where) we don't self-destruct."
Hey, if a coach can't set the bar low in his first game, when can he?
London led Virginia onto the field at precisely 6 p.m., and 10 minutes later, Payne burrowed into the end zone. It was no-frills, I-formation, power football, which Lazor didn't rediscover until the third quarter, when Richmond drew within 14-13.
On consecutive plays Jones ran for 13 yards, Payne for 15, 13 and 15, and Raynard Horne for 3. Three snaps later, Payne scored from the 2.
"You could see they were kind of wearing out a little bit," London said.
Which is precisely what should happen when a Bowl Subdivision team faces a FCS opponent.
So when might we get an accurate gauge on these Cavaliers?
Next Saturday at Southern California? Doubtful. The Trojans have beaucoup athletes on offense and will be playing their first home game under Lane Kiffin and first since an offseason turned rancid by the Reggie Bush affair.
VMI? The Keydets' victory over Lock Haven on Saturday notwithstanding, they're no match for Virginia.
Florida State? The Cavaliers upset the Seminoles the last time the teams played in Charlottesville, in 2005, but the talent gap five years later is wider than Morgan Moses.
That brings us to Oct. 9 and 16, when Virginia plays consecutive games against Coastal Division rivals, at defending ACC champ Georgia Tech and home against perennial disappointment North Carolina.
The Cavaliers have won five of their last seven against the Yellow Jackets, including a 2008 upset in Atlanta. The Tar Heels haven't prevailed at Scott Stadium since 1981 and are hip-deep in allegations of academic fraud and improper benefits.
Those are fair fights and will leave Virginia halfway through a 12-game season.
As expected, the 2010 Cavaliers won't ever be world beaters. But for the first time since November 2008, Virginia has a winning record.
Enjoy it, fans, while you can.
David Teel can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more from Teel, read his blog at dailypress.com/teeltime, and follow him at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP. Sign up for text alerts by texting "BIGSPORTS" to 71593Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun