Outback Bowl Notebook: Wolverines Travel to Busch Gardens
Feeding the Giraffes

Dec. 29, 2012

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Due to overnight and Saturday morning (Dec. 29) rains, the Wolverines made preparations to practice at Tropicana Field, the home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. But, just before leaving the team hotel the weather broke and Michigan head coach Brady Hoke decided to stay and practice at Jesuit High School. The Wolverines drilled exclusively on the FieldTurf field since the grass fields were saturated after to the heavy rains. The Wolverines donned shoulder pads and shorts while working out for nearly 90 minutes under blue skies and temperatures in the lower 70s.

Prior to the team's practice, coach Hoke held his final press conference at the Wyndham Westshore Hotel. Hoke spent 20-plus minutes discussing the final preparations for the 2013 Outback Bowl against South Carolina. "Our players have worked hard and prepared to face a formidable opponent in South Carolina," Hoke said. "This is a great opportunity for our team to finish the season the way we want to and send our seniors out with a victory."

Hoke discussed a wide range of topics, including South Carolina's defensive front, their offensive scheme, the Wolverines quarterback position, running game and secondary.

Following practice, players and student staff were bused to Busch Gardens, a Tampa-based theme park. The squad spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying themselves at the 300-acre family entertainment center, which features roller coaster rides, live entertainment, animal exhibits, shops and restaurants.

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The team having a little fun at Busch Gardens

Some players raced from ride to ride throughout the afternoon, while others could be seen feeding giraffes or standing inches away from tigers and cheetahs. Despite pressure from his teammates, quarterback Denard Robinson tried his best to elude the roller coaster rides throughout his three-hour stay at the park. After minutes of persuasion, juniors Taylor Lewan and Thomas Gordon convinced Robinson to take one lap on Cheetah Hunt, the park's newest roller coaster. But shortly after hoping off the ride, Robinson -- who openly admits he is scared of roller coasters -- elected to retire from riding and spent the rest of the day at animal exhibits.

The Wolverines wrapped up Saturday's schedule with 7 p.m. meetings back at the team hotel. U-M will hold its fifth practice at Jesuit High School on Sunday (Dec. 30) at 11 a.m.

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This foursome prepares for a ride on Cheetah Hunt; Devin Gardner (left), and Roy Roundtree take time to say 'cheese'

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