Mark Boucher warned South Africa must "man up" after it was "outskilled" by England on day four of the third Test at St George's Park.
England captain Joe Root took 4-31 in Port Elizabeth after Mark Wood struck twice to ensure England requires just four wickets on the final day to take a 2-1 lead with one match to play.
The Proteas was all out for only 209 after losing its last four first-innings wickets for only one run early on the penultimate day and it was in deep trouble on 102-6 - trailing by 188 runs - following on at stumps.
South Africa head coach Boucher offered a frank assessment of his side's shortcomings following a painful rain-affected day, which left it surely relying on the weather to save them on Monday.
"I think we were outskilled, to be honest," he told Sky Sports . "You can blame different things for the situation but I've got to look at myself and find a way to get the players up mentally and upskill them in a short space of time.
"I do think Joe Root was difficult to play at the end there. It's difficult to get down to the pitch of the ball - one slides on, one turns and it's like quicksand, the harder you try the deeper you sink.
"But we've created this situation for ourselves. No excuses - we've got to man up now and take this forward and learn from these lessons.
"When you're under the pump for a long time, every side has its breaking point and today we broke quite early, which is disappointing."
Faf du Plessis went 54 balls without scoring at one point before he was sent packing by part-time spinner Root for 36, but Boucher insisted it is not time to discuss his future as captain.
"That's not a call to make a this moment in time," Boucher said. "He's trying really hard and working really hard away from the game.
"If he's not scoring runs there's that extra pressure. The best way to answer that is putting runs on the board.
"There's no hiding place in Test cricket. He's disappointed from a team perspective. He spent a bit of time in the middle, which is good for his confidence."