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September 30, 2008For the first time Tuesday, things at Heritage Hall are different - or at least, they could be.
USC hadn't needed to respond to a loss before last Thursday's nightmare in Corvallis, Ore. Now, they do, and they're approaching it with care.
While the Trojans now have a blemish on their win-loss record, USC head coach Pete Carroll said his staff has a system for dealing with it.
"The mental aspect of what your team's feeling like is different when you're coming off a win," Carroll said. "You have to get them back to the truth of what happened, and you need them dealing with what's at hand and not what happened before.
"Those things come out in conversation. That's how we do it."
It's a fine line the staff and players are walking - remember the past while not focusing on it.
"You can't really dwell on it," wide receiver Patrick Turner said. "You have to turn the page, but we can learn from it.
"That's what we should do."
USC got back on the practice field Monday for a bonus workout, but the team will return for a normal practice later Tuesday.
And by judging from year's past, it will be a physical one.
Fullback Stanley Havili said he vividly remembers the first practice after the Trojans lost to Stanford.
"After losing to Stanford last year, the first practice was really fast," Havili said. "It felt like the first day of camp. Guys want to redeem themselves from how they played last week.
"Everyone's flying around and hitting really hard."
Still, though, the Trojans have to keep their natural reactions to what happened Thursday in check.
"You can't get too riled up about it," senior Kevin Ellison said. "But, you definitely should feel the loss. You have to feel it, but you can't let it change anything you do.
"We come in Sunday and deal with it. Then we learn from our mistakes. Then, we move on."
The Trojans' loss to Oregon State isn't making USC any more vulnerable in Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti's eyes.
"I think they are still extremely talented and have so many weapons on offense that it's hard to talk about," Bellotti said. "Defensively, they are gifted. I think they play with pride and passion. They are very well-coached.
"It will be a whole new ballgame this week."
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