It's been a long couple of days for Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney, his players and coaching staff and the fans of Tiger football.
Swinney said Monday the 2-3 record is not where he or anybody else with the Clemson football program wants to be, much less thought would be. But he sees no reason to hit the panic button because there's a fine line between winning and losing.
There's a fine line between a unified team and a split team. Towards the top of the list of biggest needs for this year's team: staying together.
"If I've learned anything from my life at all, it's really that nothing comes easy. If you keep getting up and keep believing in yourself, keep your faith and you don't quit, you'll be successful," Swinney said.
That's his mentality.
"We're going to keep swinging the axe. I just rally believe this tree will fall," he said.
Despite the 2-3 record, Swinney references the 24-0 deficit Clemson faced in the second quarter at Georgia Tech. He believes the same characteristics that were exhibited then still exist now.
"I believe we still have that same kind of toughness and character to be able to come back from a 2-3 start," he said.
Though preparation for Wake Forest begins tonight, he said fundamentals and execution will be a priority during practice this week.
Reiterating that it's up to the coaches to teach the players how to win, it starts by improving the teaching of fundamentals and executing those teachings better. Swinney believes that is the biggest issue right now.
In his mind, there's a state reality regarding Clemson football.
"We've got to coach them better and teach them how to win. We've had three last play losses. It's very disappointing and very painful," he said.
On both the player's and coach's ends, there's great need to pay better attention to details. That would result in better technique, execution and results.
Big plays that have been yielded by the defense have mostly been the result of missed tackles and assignments. Swinney said he needs to do a better job of holding players and coaches accountable for mistakes.
"We've got to execute better. That comes from coaching better and better attention to detail," Swinney said. "That's what our focus these next two weeks will be on."
Those are things he thinks the team can control.
"I don't care if we run three plays. We need to run them right and execute them the right way on both sides of the ball," he said.
A "long, heart to heart" meeting was scheduled before Monday night's practice.
"We're going to shake it off and make the best of the situation. That's what winners do and that's what we're going to do," Swinney said.
The open date comes at a good time. Timed with next week's fall break, it will give cogs like C.J. Spiller and Chris Hairston plenty of time to heal for the second half of the schedule push.
Dabo Swinney Teleconference Notes
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