CLEMSON -- Dabo Swinney's Tuesday address focused on one message: stay the course.
As the Tigers travel to Maryland on Saturday, having lost two of three games, Swinney remains confident his staff is implementing the right things. He believes his players will not suffer from a hangover after missing a chance for a signature win against Texas Christian.
"These kids come to play," Swinney said. "They showed up and played with great effort four games in a row."
Swinney noted the Tigers (2-2, 1-1 ACC) lost to two top-20 teams by a combined seven points, though he was informed Tuesday that his predecessor, Tommy Bowden, made similar announcements. A media member noted Bowden's Tigers were always just one play away.
"(Tommy Bowden) coached for 10 years, I have been here four games," Swinney said. "If three years from now we are having that same problem, bring someone else in here."
The wavering members of the Tiger Republic will no doubt want quicker turnover if the Tigers fall to a Maryland team that has not defeated a I-A opponent this season and is coming off a 21-point loss to Rutgers.
Combine the prospects of facing the Terps (1-3, 0-0 ACC) with the Tigers' close loss against TCU, and you'll arrive at another Swinney slogan: don't let one loss become two.
The slogan is designed to redirect the focus of players like DeAndre McDaniel, who admitted Monday he was not yet over the sting of Saturday -- a missed opportunity to enter the rankings and national conversation.
Clemson stars C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford both echoed the phrase Tuesday.
"We are upbeat, we still have a lot on the table," Spiller said. "(The TCU loss) is not going to beat us twice."
The Tigers can't afford to lose to Maryland in back-to-back seasons if they are to entertain winning the Atlantic. It is a division title that certainly appears winnable as Maryland and the other four teams in the division -- not including Clemson -- enter the weekend 11-9 overall and 1-3 in the conference.
The trip to Maryland also offers the Tigers their easiest road test of the season.
Maryland ranks last in the ACC in total defense (411 yards per game), 10th in scoring offense (23.8 points per game), last in sacks allowed (14) and last in turnover margin (-10).
The Terps will no doubt look to copy some of the quarterback zone-read runs TCU had success with against Clemson. Maryland quarterback Chris Turner -- when not being sacked -- has rushed for 84 yards on 19 carries.
Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, believes he ironed out the issues during Monday's practice.
"Coaches are copycats -- if they see something work, they will copy it," Steele said. "If you stop it they (think) it's fixed."
Maryland also possesses a dependable 1,000-yard rusher in Da'Rel Scott, and an aggressive, blitzing defense under a new coordinator in Dan Brown, who was the head coach at Massachusetts (2004-08) when he led the Minutemen to a national title game appearance in 2006 and finished in the top 20 in defense three times in five years.
The Terps' defense is led by middle linebacker Alex Wujciak, a preseason All-ACC selection who leads the team with 45 tackles.
The Terps return just four defensive starters from a year ago, and lost their top corner, Nolan Carroll (broken leg), against James Madison.
Still, they'll attempt to rattle a Clemson offense ranked ninth in the ACC in total offense and last in pass efficiency (102.9) with pressure from odd and even fronts. The Terps recorded 10 tackles for loss and four sacks in a loss against Middle Tennessee on Sept. 19.
"We just have to be a little smarter, pay a little more attention to detail," Swinney said.
"Stay the course, don't panic."
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