CLEMSON - A defiant Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is determined to push through troubled waters after the Tigers' second consecutive loss has some fans up in arms.
"There's a real fine line between winning and losing," Swinney said during a teleconference Monday. "I don't see any reason to panic.
"There's a perception and there's a reality, and I know what the reality is. I live in the reality, and we've got to coach them better."
Swinney realizes that may not play well to fans second-guessing the decision to entrust the program to a first-time head coach.
"I'm a Clemson fan myself. I'm mad. I'm not happy," he said. "Nobody should be happy."
Drawing on his personal experience of beating the odds, Swinney said, "ain't nothing easy."
"I know we have not met expectations," he said, "but I know we're going to get there.
"I would say let's play this season out, let's support these kids."
The three losses are by a total of 10 points and Clemson had chances to win each in the fourth quarter. Most glaring in a 24-21 loss at Maryland was the number of mistakes on offense - dropped passes, procedure penalties and poor decisions.
Despite playing the majority of the fourth quarter on the Maryland half of the field, Clemson did not score.
"We're not doing a good enough job of coaching. That's the bottom line," Swinney said. "It's just really that simple."
The Tigers next play at home Oct. 17 against Wake Forest. The Wake Forest game was picked by Raycom Sports and will be a noon kickoff.
"We're going to go back to work and hold everybody accountable," Swinney said. "We've got to do a better job of getting the execution to go from the practice field to the game field and putting the confidence in these guys that they can go perform."
Players said they were mystified by the mistakes in the Maryland game. And experience did not assure immunity.
"There's no question there's a lot of things we need to do better. It's just attention to details, and that's what we've got to coach better," Swinney said.
"We'll keep doing what we're doing," he said. "We're going to do it better."
There were not any changes in staff responsibilities, he said. The offensive line is better but "not any where close to where I want it to be." Quarterback Kyle Parker continues to show flashes of brilliance amidst lapses. And the defense zoned out during the second quarter at Maryland, then gave the offense several opportunities to win the game.
"I've got all the confidence in the world in our coaching staff," he said. "There is no quit at all in these coaches and players."
Monitoring players' moods, reinforcing his message and helping them turn a deaf ear to the criticism also will be part of the job.
"The biggest thing we've got to do is stay together, keep the team together," he said.