CLEMSON -- Following the Tigers' shocking loss to Maryland on Saturday, Dabo Swinney seemed to be readying for a Category 5-level storm of criticism during the postgame press briefing.
Swinney emerged Monday saying, "It's been a long couple days," and compared the Tigers' situation to being in "the valley."
Said Swinney: "Every time I've been in the valley, I've come out better," before adding "nobody should be happy."
After assessing the wreckage, the Tigers' third loss in four games, Swinney said no major changes are in order.
Swinney believes his Tigers are doing the big things right. He still believes the Tigers possess resolve and resilience. He again attributed the losses to "execution" lapses.
"I'm not a guy to panic," Swinney said. "There is a real fine line between winning and losing. The biggest thing is keeping the team together."
When asked to elaborate on his point of keeping the team together, Swinney said he "doesn't sense anything at all" related to dissension or drifting, but is cautioning his players "to be careful who they listen to … keeping kids on the same page."
Despite falling below .500 (2-3, 1-2 ACC), it may be easier for Clemson to remain united and motivated since the ACC Atlantic Division remains wide open.
Preseason favorite Florida State is 0-2 in ACC play and is coming off its own disappointing loss against Boston College. The Atlantic's top three teams -- Maryland (1-0), Boston College (2-1) and Wake Forest (1-1) -- were picked by many to comprise the bottom half of the division.
Moreover, Swinney notes the losses have been close -- the three loses have come by a combined 10 points.
"It's not like we are getting manhandled, like we have no chance for success," he said.
"Nothing comes easy. But if you keep getting up, keep believing in yourself, keep swinging the ax, the tree will fall. … The biggest issues really are fundamentals and execution. …"
And those issues are most prominent on the offensive side.
The Tigers offense has recorded two touchdowns in the last 13 quarters, and produced 274 yards against the ACC's worst statistical defense in Maryland, which entered allowing more than 400 yards per game.
Swinney said there will be no reorganization of offensive duties within the coaching staff during the bye week. He also said Willy Korn's role could "possibly" expand, but seems firmly behind Kyle Parker as the starting quarterback.
While the offense struggled, the defense was hardly perfect, and Swinney noted that during the second quarter the defense suffered a lull in intensity for the first time this season.
He said the offensive line is still not as physical as he would like, though it has improved and should further improve when left tackle Chris Hairston returns following the bye week.
"I don't think you can change the culture overnight," Swinney said. "I think we've made progress there … my job is to get us there."
He believes the bye week comes at a good time as the Tigers can get healthy and focus on execution and fundamentals.
"We are going to hold everybody accountable," Swinney said. "We have to do a better job (transferring) execution from the practice field to the game field. (During the bye) we can really get ready to make a stretch run ….there is no quit at all in the players and staff."
Reach Travis Sawchik at email@example.com.
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