Saturday’s loss to Wake Forest sent the Clemson Nation into a state of unrest. The honeymoon of the 2-0 start seems long ago. Gone are the memories of two come from behind wins to start the year. Now, everyone is searching for answers to why the Tigers have dropped the last three games.
The Tigers have thirteen days before they travel to Raleigh to face NC State. The time off will not provide any answers for the fan base, but it is much needed for this team.
The first five games could have gone either way, but it is time to move forward. The hopes of a chance to play in the inaugural ACC championship are gone, so now this team has to find what it is playing for the rest of the season.
Remember how the class of 2003 responded, when hope seemed lost. The chance for this group of seniors to win a championship has passed them by. It is gutcheck time for the seniors. The easiest thing to do is fold up the tent and quit, but the reason the class of 2003 will not be forgotten is they did the opposite.
It is not the seniors responsibility to save head coach Tommy Bowden’s job, so they should not look for motivation in their head coach’s job security. The motivation should come in the fact that they are sick of losing. This will be the last year a majority of the seniors play football and that should be more than enough motivation. The seniors know what it takes to turn around a season, as they have seen it happen the last two years.
For the underclassmen, they will have another chance next year to play for a championship, but the time to move towards that goal is now. Recruiting class rankings mean nothing on Saturdays. Clemson has out recruited Wake Forest every year Coach Bowden has been the head coach, but the fifth year seniors went 3-2 versus Wake Forest.
The underclassmen have a taste of how hard it is to put together every Saturday. The task that lies in front of them is no big secret. It takes more than really good summer of voluntary workouts to be successful. Now more than ever, this group of players should realize you have to bring it every workout, mat drill, practice, and game.
Stay the course. This is a good coaching staff. There is a lot of experience and a lot of good football minds on this staff. This staff is not a stranger to being under pressure. In fact, they have a tendency to do better under pressure.
Now, they have bye week to get their team healthy and make adjustments. On both sides of the ball, the coaches need to re-install confidence in their players. Regardless what players say to the media, this team is in need of a shot of confidence. The past two years, the coaches have said the right thing to re-energize the players.
The problem facing the coaches now is you are saying it to a lot of the players for the third time. It will be difficult to sell the same speech to players for a third time. How this coaching staff gets the players to respond to them will be one of the biggest keys for the rest of the season.