"After a win, it is a lot of smiles and laughing and after a loss like Washington, it is a little different vibe, little different atmosphere," Denker said. "He loves winning; he's one of the most competitive coaches I have ever played underneath and so am I.
"I came into that meeting after the Washington game knowing it was going to be pretty ugly, so I prepared myself mentally for that."
Although the meeting likely included plenty of yelling from his head coach, Denker realizes why Rodriguez approached it like he did.
"There's always a method to his madness," Denker said. "It is making sure we don't make a stupid mistake in his eyes again. That's the big thing, you can throw the ball incomplete, but if you make a stupid mistake that you worked on all day in practice and you do it on Saturday, that is what gets under his skin."
What did Denker learn from the tape session?
"Overall, just making sure that I see the defense and put the ball where it is supposed to be," he said. "Sometimes against Washington I anticipated them doing something and they did something else and it caught me off guard. I just want to be prepared mentally and physically. That's the big thing, preparation."
That preparation is for what could be described as Denker's biggest test, especially considering what USC brings up front.
"Athletic," Denker said. "Big, long fast, athletic, especially in the front seven, but they don't have depth. That is our big thing, is we are trying to push our tempo even faster.
"Keeping the same guys out on the field and just changing formations, so they don't have a chance to sub. Once their first string is tired, it is going to be tough because they don't have a lot of depth."
In addition, Denker realizes that he and his teammates from Southern California may approach Thursday's game with a little extra motivation.
"A lot of our guys are from Southern California, especially the L.A. area, so we are using that as motivation," he said. "We didn't get recruited there, so let's beat our hometown team."