Michigan in Orlando: 'No fun, just football'

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Erik Magnuson

Winter Garden, Fla. — The Michigan football team is in the middle of Funland, amusement parks every few blocks it seems, Disney World, Sea World, Epcot, Universal, restaurants, malls.

And while there is a scheduled team park visit this week, that's not what being in Orlando is all about for the players.

The Wolverines continue Citrus Bowl preparations this week at West Orange High in 85-degree temperatures, blazing sun and high humidity as they ready to face Florida on Friday in the Citrus Bowl.

Are the players taking advantage of the locale and enjoying the scene?

"It's football — that is my fun," tight end Jake Butt said very seriously after Monday's practice. "Football and going out there and trying to win on Friday. When we win, that will be the fun part."

Offensive lineman Erik Magnuson is enjoying the weather although the excessive heat almost drove him to shaving his beard.

"No fun. Just football," Magnuson said, smiling. "Football's fun, though, so I'm having a lot of fun. I like it down here, it's a lot different than Ann Arbor, but our main goal is to win this game. I think we're doing it a little bit differently than other teams."

What all the players have discussed since arriving Saturday is Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's precise schedule.

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"Coach Harbaugh has it very structured," Magnuson said. "We're in meetings, and we're in practice. We're all together. We're doing football 24/7 and sleeping — it's not 24/7 then, I guess. Let's say 18/7 and then sleeping six."

Magnuson said the Wolverines' bowl approach is different than most teams.

"I have a lot of friends who play on other teams (and) hearing their bowl experiences, (they) are different than ours," he said. "We're all about getting the win. That's what matters the most."

Michigan hasn't been to a bowl game since 2013 when Brady Hoke was head coach. Players who were on that team say the preparations under Harbaugh are vastly different. But then, who would be surprised, considering Harbaugh had the players go through four-hour practices during the spring?

"I would say more intense," linebacker and co-captain Joe Bolden said Sunday after practice. "Different schedule, getting everything out of every second of the day. (Harbaugh) schedules everything to maximize and get everything out that we can.

"He's very focused, and I think the team's focused in knowing why we're down here. It's just a different focus."

During a team event at a local Buffalo Wild Wings, center Graham Glasgow was asked if this bowl game, sponsored by the restaurant chain, is considered a "reward" as many teams view a bowl.

"I don't think coach Harbaugh views it as much of a reward," Glasgow said. "I think he views it as a game we must win. We all have that mentality."

Glasgow was at the bowl in Arizona two years ago. He said the preparation this year is much different than it was for that game.

"We are consistently in meetings, we are watching film, we're on the practice field, we're having walk-throughs," Glasgow said Monday night. "Really a lot of that goes to the coaching staff. They want to win this game, we want to win this game, and we'll do whatever it takes to win."

Since the Wolverines' tough loss to Ohio State to end the regular season, they have set their sights on one thing and that's reaching 10 wins. That would double Michigan's win total from last season.

"The main focus is to get 10 wins," receiver Amara Darboh said Monday. "We've already improved on our record from last year, and I think now to get 10 wins, win a bowl game and send out the seniors the right way, that's the main focus right now. That's what everyone is focusing on."

Citrus Bowl

Michigan vs. Florida

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Jan. 1, Orlando, Florida, Citrus Bowl Stadium

TV/radio: ABC/WWJ

Records: No. 14 Michigan 9-3, No. 19 Florida 10-3

Line: Michigan by 4

Series: Michigan leads 2-0