- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- It won’t be played for four months, but Michigan’s players have started to think about what its season opener will be like.
Really, who can blame them? It isn’t often a team faces the defending national champions, as the Wolverines will, in the season opener inside an NFL stadium. Safety Jordan Kovacs has already started calling it “The Jerry Jones Classic,” a nod to the Dallas Cowboys owner who helped build the stadium the game will be played in.
“It’s going to be a great game, a big game and everybody’s really looking forward to that,” Kovacs said Tuesday. “I’m excited to take them on and it’ll be a true test of where we’re at come week 1.”
Michigan has much to work on between now and then, including improving offensive and defensive lines second-year coach Brady Hoke described as “neither side is very good right now.” Considering Alabama will likely have a speed advantage on Michigan along with looking to really run right at an inexperienced defensive line, those improvements are critical.
So Hoke, unlike his players, hasn’t focused on Alabama much with his team. He is still focusing on individual improvement and trying to make sure his team has enough talent and depth to hang with not only Alabama but Notre Dame and the always-competitive Big Ten.
Before all of those other games, though, is the benchmark against the Crimson Tide.
“It’s no secret the SEC has won, what, maybe the last six national champs,” Kovacs said. “It’s a very powerful conference and we expect Alabama to be the best in that conference. That’s how we prepare.
“But we’re just excited to be going into that game and it’s going to be a real, true test of where we’re at and we feel like we’ve got a decent shot. But at the end of the day we’re only in April, only at the end of spring ball, and we have a long way to go until we can really start talking about that game.”