Ed Orgeron, USC's interim coach, has instilled a sense of fun in Trojans practices this week.
But lost somewhat amid Lane Kiffin's firing and Orgeron's attempt to re-energize players is that the Trojans gave up 62 points in their last game, a 62-41 loss at Arizona State.
"When you've been around this business," defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said, "there's going to be days like that."
Pendergast, former defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals, pointed to the 2008 NFL season, when the Cardinals lost to the New England Patriots, 47-7, in the second-to-last game of the season. The Cardinals went on to play in the Super Bowl.
"Nobody thought we were going to be very good in the playoffs," he said. "So those kinds of games happen and, obviously, you want to keep them to a minimum."
Pendergast coached at Cal before coming to USC. In 2012, the Golden Bears gave up 59 points in a loss to Oregon, and then finished the season the next week with a 62-14 loss to Oregon State.
The Trojans' problems against Arizona State sprang from a good performance by Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly and "miscommunication and mental errors that we hadn't had the first four weeks," Pendergast said. He added that the mistakes had been addressed and would be corrected.
Pendergast and the defensive backs had dinner away from campus Wednesday night.
"Just a chance to get out and … be in a different setting and just relax a little bit and not really have to talk about football all the time," he said.
USC has an open date Saturday. The Trojans play Arizona on Thursday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
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