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MICHIGAN REPORT

They are trying to weather the preparations

December 27, 2006|David Wharton | Times Staff Writer

The weather in Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon was bright and warm -- about 30 degrees warmer than in Ann Arbor, Mich. -- a meteorological fact not lost on the Michigan Wolverines.

With the team preparing to play USC in the Rose Bowl on Monday, Coach Lloyd Carr talked about the novelty of seeing sunshine at this time of year.

Michigan quarterback Chad Henne said that the change in time zones and the warm weather were things he and his teammates have had to get used to.

"It was hard to adjust at first," he said. "But it's a lot better than the freezing weather at home."

Michigan, which finished its regular season against Ohio State on Nov. 18, started acclimating with practices at the Home Depot Center in Carson last week.

"Of course, we're still trying to get back our timing," Henne said. "But we're definitely finding some rhythm."

*

Because the game is on a Monday, the Wolverines have had their normal schedule twisted around.

They practiced on Christmas morning before a team dinner at the hotel. Tuesday marked the start of their game-week routine, which meant they got the day off.

Instead of working out, players spent the afternoon at Disneyland in the first of several official Rose Bowl events. They will resume practice today and attend the Lawry's Beef Bowl.

USC was also at Disneyland on Tuesday, so Michigan's All-American defensive end LaMarr Woodley took the opportunity to approach USC Coach Pete Carroll.

Four years ago, Woodley took a recruiting trip to USC, which he called a close second to Michigan in his final decision.

"I talked to him," Woodley said of Carroll. "He said, 'You should have been with us.' "

Woodley also visited Oklahoma and noted that all his finalist schools have played in Bowl Championship Series games over the last few years.

"I wouldn't have gone wrong with any of them," he said.

*

Between going on rides, Michigan and USC players talked about losing to their rivals during the regular season and missing out on an invitation to the national championship game Jan. 8 at Glendale, Ariz.

USC center Ryan Kalil said both teams want badly to finish with a victory, which gives the Rose Bowl a sense of urgency.

"I don't know how you could find better motivation," he said.

Woodley took a more dispassionate view of the situation.

"It is what it is," he said. "We're at the Rose Bowl playing a great team."

david.wharton@latimes.com

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