Brady Hoke wary of overworking Michigan players heading into Outback Bowl
ANN ARBOR -- More isn't always better.
That pretty much sums up Michigan coach Brady Hoke's philosophy when it comes to preparing for a bowl game.
Hoke once held two-a-days while at Ball State as he prepared to play Rutgers in the 2008 International Bowl. The Cardinals were routed 52-30.
"I didn’t like that," Hoke said. "We got trounced in the bowl game by a pretty good Rutgers team."
So, no two-a-days for No. 19 Michigan (8-4) as it prepares to face No. 11 South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.
But that doesn't mean it won't go hard.
The Wolverines kicked off their 15-practice schedule Friday with a crisp, but intense, workout at Schembechler Hall. And that's just the way Hoke likes it.
"We practiced with a lot of spirit – pretty physical," Hoke said. "They’ve been doing some running and lifting on the days (coaches) have been out recruiting, but it was good to get back. Thought we had a lot of intensity and a lot of crispness to what we were doing.
"I believe in intensity in how you practice, a focus and a pace and a tempo. When you have those things, you’re getting the physcialness and you’re getting execution, instead of being out there for two-and-a-half hours. Guys, 20 minutes into one thing, get a little bored. So you got to a change it up."
Michigan's current roster has experienced only two bowls, and the preparations were vastly different for the Gator Bowl two years ago under Rich Rodriguez and last season's Sugar Bowl under Hoke.
And they net vastly different results, as the Wolverines were blasted 52-14 by Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl, but bounced back with a 23-20 overtime victory against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.
Players talked last year about taking more of a business-like approach to last year's game, with more intense practices and fewer distractions while on the trip.
They plan to do the same this year.
"You have to approach it as a business trip," senior safety Jordan Kovacs said. "I’m not saying we didn’t do that when we went to the Gator Bowl, but that’s how we approached it last year and that’s how we’re approaching it this year -- and it started today.
"If we go down there and lose, we’re going to be sick to our stomachs, particularly the seniors. This is our last game, last time taking the field as a Michigan football player. So this is a big deal for us, and we want to go out the right way."
Michigan will practice again Saturday, then break for finals. It will regroup next Friday and Saturday, then have practices Dec. 17-19. It leaves for Tampa, Fla., on Dec. 23.
The Wolverines will practice eight more times in Florida, mostly at the University of Tampa. They will have one walkthrough at Raymond James Stadium, site of the game.
Hoke said he doesn't expect anyone to be ineligible for the trip.