CONWAY - Despite the recent struggles of his program, Coastal Carolina coach David Bennett reiterated his trust in his assistant coaches and himself to lead the Chanticleers.
The Chants (3-4) are coming off two of the toughest losses Bennett has had in his eight-year reign. The first was a 45-point loss to Liberty; the second, a 16-10 loss at Stony Brook.
A loss today at Clemson, and it would be only the second three-game losing streak in program history.
"I feel the pressure that we put on ourselves as coaches to be successful," said Bennett, who signed a 10-year contract in 2007. "We've got to continue to do the things we need to do to continue to grow this program. ...
"I think when you lose games you think you should win, you can't quit. You've got to grind. Get through the grind."
Bennett is 14-16 since 2007, when the Chants went 9-3 and reached the FCS playoffs. It was Coastal's defense that drew criticism in 2007 and 2008, but the offense has been the major hindrance this season.
Despite the return of quarterback Zach MacDowall, the team's second and third leading receivers and three interior linemen, the Chants are averaging 60 yards and 6.2 points per game less and have thrown almost twice as many interceptions (11) as touchdowns (six). Coastal ranks 80th in total offense and 101st in scoring.
Bennett has criticized his players for their inability to avoid mental mistakes that have killed drives at key moments. However, he said he challenged his coaches to appraise themselves.
"That's what we are trying to ask," Bennett said. "Are we asking too much of them? I told our coaches, 'It's not how much you know. It's how much they know.' That's an old thing in coaching - don't try and do too much."
Bennett has maintained faith in offensive coordinator Kevin Brown, who was promoted in the offseason after seven years as Coastal's quarterback coach, and the rest of his offensive staff.
"What I told Kevin was, 'Quit beating yourself up,'" Bennett said. "He's getting a little frustrated, because we're not executing and doing the things we need to. But he can't play anymore. We've just got to get them in the right situation."
Bennett is hoping Coastal's offense rebounds like it has for Clemson and its first-year coordinator Billy Napier, who drew criticism after the Tigers' offensive woes during a 2-3 start. The Tigers have responded by scoring 78 points and compiling 792 yards in victories against Wake Forest and No. 8 Miami.
Brown has tried to simplify the offense, but that has not yielded results yet. Still, he is hopeful his unit will come around against a remaining schedule ranked No. 106 in FCS.
"We're going to fight through this and learn from it," Brown said. "We'll learn who has got character, who wants to fight and who wants to get better everyday. Those kids we'll rally around.
"We've got to get some more reps on our part as coaches. The players have to take a little more ownership. I've addressed that. We need more vocal leaders to try and push through this hard time."