CLEMSON - After last Thursday's 30-10 loss to Virginia, Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden said he needed to find a way to keep his team's confidence from eroding.
Following Monday's practice, he revisited the topic again. Essentially, he said, there's one sure way to boost morale.
"I think the best thing we need right now is to win a game," Bowden said. "When you look at our five games and how they've gone, we're trying halfback passes, we're trying reverses, we're trying everything. The players have to do their job, and I have to do my job to give us the best chance to be successful.
"But I think winning is the best thing that can happen for their confidence."
Bowden points out that all five of Clemson's games have been close late in the third quarter and early in the fourth.
There have been no 70-10 losses, such as Texas Tech dropped on Nebraska this weekend, he said. There have been no games with just 81 yards of total offense, such as Maryland was held to by Georgia Tech Saturday.
What there has been, however, is an offense which has completely bogged down and a defense which still hasn't been able to make the big play at the big time.
"There are some things happening," Bowden said. "But there ain't enough happening. The fourth quarter, I've got to get us (through that). I know they're frustrated. Everybody's frustrated."
Bowden said defensive tackle Cory Groover's performance vs. Virginia was encouraging, and will earn him more playing time.
Finally healthy, Groover turned in a solid performance against the Cavs, leading all defensive linemen with three first hits and finishing with six total tackles. Bowden said Groover likely would be bracketed with Trey Tate in the defensive line rotation.
"He's showing that he can make some plays when he's healthy," Bowden said. "That can be a help to us there on the line."
Bowden said he continues to think run first on offense, even though the production in that area has been mediocre at best.
"Ideally I'd like a 70-30 split (run to pass), maybe 65-35," he said. "Of course that would mean we're winning a lot of games. We're way ahead and just running the ball to run out the clock."
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.