Michigan begins its final week of Rose Bowl preparations with a day of rest today, and Coach Lloyd Carr was glad his team -- especially his defense -- has come this far intact.
"A year ago, we had five season-ending injuries to linebackers," Carr said. "This year, we've been very fortunate."
Linebacker Dave Harris was lost to a serious injury earlier this fall, but other key players have shown signs of recovery during practice this week
Receiver Jason Avant, who hurt his ankle against Ohio State, said he felt fine. Defensive lineman Larry Stevens is coming back from a foot injury.
"Some years you don't have any [injuries]," said Dr. Gerald O'Connor, the team physician. "Some years you are devastated and you don't know why."
Carr wasn't about to question his good luck. He said that health is a big plus for his team: "The depth, the continuity, all those things."
The Rose queen and her royal court greeted Michigan players as they checked into a Beverly Hills hotel Wednesday afternoon to begin a week of Rose Bowl activities.
With a floral lei around his neck, Carr looked like someone arriving at the Hula Bowl in Hawaii.
"I'm in Los Angeles," he said. "I know that."
But with rain falling for a second consecutive day, some of his players have been wondering.
"They say it only rains here something like 15 days a year," Avant said. "We come here for four days and get two days of rain."
The families of several Michigan players arrived Wednesday, but most were not due until later in the week. It's a familiar situation for a team that has played in bowl games for eight consecutive seasons.
Like others on the team, offensive lineman Tony Pape said he has grown accustomed to being away from home for the holidays.
Though Carr extended curfew to 1 a.m. on Christmas Eve and gave his players Christmas Day off, he offered a few suggestions as to how they might spend their free time.
"Stay off your feet," he told them. "Eat properly."
The message apparently got through to Avant, who planned to attend church this morning. And after that?
"Stay in my room," the receiver said. "Sleep."