CLEMSON - The task is daunting, to be sure.
After Saturday's loss to Florida State dropped Clemson to 1-3, Tommy Bowden's team is faced with having to win five of its final seven games just to have a winning season. Forget an ACC championship. Forget an elite bowl.
On the line now is Clemson's streak of just going to a bowl - any bowl - in Bowden's first five years.
So, licking their wounds after three straight defeats and with an offense unexpectedly stuck in reverse, the Tigers' first scheduling break this season comes perhaps couldn't come at a better time.
Clemson doesn't play again until Thursday, Oct. 7 - a Thursday night game at Virginia.
"I think the open date comes at a good time," Bowden said during his regular Sunday teleconference. "When you're playing well you don't want to stop. But we've lost three in a row and have some guys banged up, so we'll benefit by the extra time in between games."
The 12 days between games will give Bowden and his staff a chance to try and fix what has become a beleaguered offense.
While the offensive line has struggled somewhat through the first four games, making life difficult for both quarterback Charlie Whitehurst and the Clemson running game. But Saturday the line played well, especially in the first half, while Whitehurst did not.
Two of his five turnovers (fumble, interception) Saturday led directly to 14 Florida State points in the second quarter. Add in an overthrow to a wide open Chansi Stuckey - and a drop by Kelvin Grant in the end zone two plays later - on another possession, and instead of perhaps a 21-3 halftime lead, the Tigers trailed FSU 17-14 at the break.
All told, Whitehurst has thrown six interceptions and lost three fumbles in the last two games, easily the worst stretch of his young career.
But Bowden is confident the offense will come around, and to that end isn't planning on any drastic changes during the break.
"I'm not going to scrap our system because we've struggled of late. I'm not going to change a system that has worked for eight years," he said. "We've played against some good teams so far, and at the end of the year we'll see that Florida State has one of the best defenses in the nation.
"The biggest thing with the offense, and with the team for that matter, has been the turnovers, not the scheme. We're last in the nation in turnover margin. You would think you would force more than two in four games, and I never would have thought we would have committed 14.
"Charlie has to do a better job in terms of ball security when he leaves the pocket."
Clemson will be off Monday, then practice Tuesday-Thursday this week.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger and TigerNet. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.