Sugar Bowl Notebook: Day 2 in New Orleans
Will Campbell with a Mardi Gras float

Dec. 29, 2011

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The University of Michigan football team began day two of preparation for the 78th annual Allstate Sugar Bowl on Thursday (Dec. 29) with 10:45 a.m. meetings at the Marriott hotel before departing for Tulane University for a 1 p.m. practice. The Wolverines donned pads for the first time while in New Orleans and worked out for nearly one hour and 45 minutes under blue skies and temperatures in the upper 60s.

"I was disappointed in the beginning (today)," said head coach Brady Hoke. "I thought we picked it up as we went along. We'll probably be in full pads again tomorrow -- tomorrow is our 'Tuesday' -- just to get a little bit more contact in and a little bit more timing. Our two big work days are usually Tuesday and Wednesday."

Following practice, several Wolverines players met with the media. Among them were wide receiver and Louisiana native Drew Dileo and fifth-year senior defensive tackle Will Heininger.

Dileo, who grew up 87 miles northwest from New Orleans in Greenwell Springs (near Baton Rouge) and graduated from Parkside Baptist High School, expects to have a big cheering section.

"It's incredible," said Dileo."Fifty-plus family and friends are coming to watch the game. It's something that I could have only dreamed about, and now that it's actually coming true it's nice."

Heininger, who Hoke announced on Wednesday would be questionable for the Sugar Bowl with a sprained foot, spoke Thursday and said while he is not yet able to practice, he has not given up hope of playing in next Tuesday's game.

"You never want to get hurt," Heininger said. "Optimistically, we have great trainers. I'm hoping to get back. It's definitely getting better every day. I'll just keep working and hope for the best."

Hoke also mentioned that Heininger, like many of the seniors this season, has not hesitated to help out his younger teammates despite his injury.

"[Will] is doing a tremendous job of coaching the young guys. He and Richard Ash were watching the film together," said Hoke.

"I've been watching film with the younger guys like [Quinton Washington, Richard Ash and Will Campbell], giving them little pointers here and there, stuff to help them," said Heininger. "I have great confidence in them. I'm really excited for them."

Following practice, the team had dinner at the Rex Den with cuisine provided by Zea Rotisserie & Grill. The Rex Den is the home for all floats for the famed Rex Procession, which flows through the Crescent City each year during Mardi Gras. Rex, the King of Carnival, picked the official colors of Mardi Gras (purple, green, gold) in 1892.

The Wolverines will hold their third practice at Tulane University on Friday at 1 p.m.

Drew Dileo played at the Superdome for two Louisiana state championship games during high school (2007, '09). He led his Parkview Baptist squad to the 2007 state title while earning MVP honors.

With a record of 10-2 the Wolverines have the opportunity to become the ninth Michigan team to earn 11 victories in a season. Previously the feat has been accomplished in 1901 (11-0, national champion), 1902 (11-0, national champion), 1903 (11-0-1, national champion), 1905 (12-1), 1971 (11-1), 1986 (11-2), 1997 (12-0, national champion), and 2006 (11-2).

In March 2010, junior defensive end Craig Roh took a mission trip to New Orleans to help the city with Hurricane Katrina recovery. "We spent some time in the French Quarter then, and I'm going to try to find some of the places that had great food. I had some alligator and I really want to have some again. It's really good. There is an art museum across the street (from the hotel) and I might go with some guys there."

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