Michigan not worried about 'SEC speed,' Wolverines say they play just as fast as 'Bama
ANN ARBOR -- By now, most Michigan players have heard or read everything there is to know about Alabama.
The Crimson Tide are big. They're strong. They're battle-tested and they've got new national championship rings.
Whether it's fact or a stereotype, the prevailing thought when comparing the Big Ten and the Southeastern Conference is that the former is slow, and the latter is really fast.
Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan will give you the latter. But he's not necessarily buying the former.
"I think we play the game just as fast as they do," Lewan said earlier this week. "We have great athletes on this team. Roy Roundtree, (Jordan) Kovacs plays at a speed and he looks faster than he is, I feel like. He's a student of the game.
"When you know what's going on all the time, you can play pretty fast."
The hallmark of most Nick Saban-coached defenses has traditionally been relentless speed and aggression. And this year's Alabama team will likely be no different, despite the fact that they replace seven starters.
Quarterback A.J. McCarron lost leading-receiver Marquis Maze to graduation, but returners DeAndrew White and Kenny Bell aren't exactly slow. Neither is Trent Richardson's running back replacement Eddie Lacy, who -- despite an offseason toe injury -- has 4.4 40 speed.
Michigan won't likely win a track meet against Alabama -- although Denard Robinson might disagree.
But, according to Lewan, it doesn't have to.
"When you figure out everything we're supposed to do as a unit, being the second year in this offense and defense, you allow yourself to play faster because you're not as cautious," Lewan said. "When you know your job, it's much easier.
"I wouldn't be intimidated (by Alabama's speed), but I would say we should be cautious. At any time, they can attack."
As far as overall intimidation goes, there isn't much to be found inside Schembechler Hall.
Brady Hoke says he doesn't feel like an underdog. Kovacs said he felt right at home with Alabama as a near two-touchdown favorite. And just about everyone else has said they are fully aware of just how good Alabama is.
"We know they're good," Michigan offensive guard Patrick Omameh said. "We've seen them. We're not walking into this game thinking it's going to be a cake walk. We're excited about the challenge.
"We're confident going into any matchup we head into."
Rather than fear the high-level SEC speed, the Wolverines say they're embracing it as a challenge.
In fact, a challenge like this is why most of them came to school at Michigan to begin with.
"When you come to Michigan you expect to get everybody's best," Michigan senior guard Elliott Mealer said. "Alabama's always going to have a great football team, but whatever they have, it (makes for) an exciting opportunity."