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Wolverines exposed by Tide

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It showed in the missed tackles all over Cowboys Stadium on Saturday night. It showed in Jeremy Gallon letting a punt go, only to have it roll dead on the 2-yard line.

It showed in receivers unable to get separation from defensive backs, offensive linemen getting plowed over, and a record-setting quarterback who looked more like a confused freshman instead of a Heisman Trophy candidate.

One thing Michigan can say for sure Sunday and for the near future is this: The Wolverines are not elite. Nowhere close to it. They saw elite -- Alabama, which routed them 41-14, might very well be the best team in the country -- and Michigan couldn't hang, not at all.

"I would think we're on the short end of the measuring stick right now," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said, his voice as beaten and battered as his team had been on the field. "We've got a lot of things that I know we can do better.

"I've seen us do it better and we've got to get back to work."

Michigan's defense geared up to stop the run, so Alabama countered with play-action passes that led to two touchdowns. When the Crimson Tide wanted to run, they did with ease, rushing for 232 yards.

"That's what can happen when a team has a pretty effective run game going," safety Jordan Kovacs said. "You've got to honor that run and occasionally your defensive backs will have bad eyes or see too much and give up a deep ball and that's what happened."

Bad eyes were contagious. Seeing too much meant watching all they believed for months and months and months be annihilated by the strength of an SEC offensive line and the blur of SEC speed.

Luckily for Michigan, it won't see an SEC team again this season except maybe a bowl game in December or January. Now the Wolverines have to refocus.

If there's a positive for Michigan out of being blown out it is the Wolverines now know where they need to improve. The unfortunate portion of that is, well, the Wolverines need to improve pretty much everywhere.

"Obviously, we didn't play Michigan football and that is something that bothers our team, bothers the coaches," Hoke said. "I don't think we tackled well enough on defense, didn't control the line of scrimmage enough offensively. Penalties, we had a lot of penalties and that's usually not like us, so that's bothersome.

"So we have a lot of work to do. A lot of things to correct."

Michigan even started working on making some corrections late against Alabama.

With the game long decided and the Wolverines with no chance to win, Hoke didn't pull all of his starters. Some went to the bench, like part of his defensive line and quarterback Denard Robinson, but the majority of his first offensive line stayed on the field.

So, too, did Vincent Smith, who started the game at running back. Even on a night where Michigan was hurt by injuries, Hoke had a reason to leave those players in the game until the final snaps.

"The defensive line, most of those guys were out," Hoke said. "Offensively, number one, we've got the ball at midfield and we're trying to score and trying to compete. Denard is in the game at one point.

"And there are some guys that need a lot of work still."

To reach the goal Michigan wants -- and states -- before every season,that work is paramount. The Wolverines' effort Saturday wasn't close to enough to beat Alabama and wouldn't be close to enough to do what they still hope to accomplish -- a Big Ten title.

They are very well aware of that.

"We have to try and move forward," Robinson said. "We have a goal and that's to try and win the Big Ten. In order for us to win the Big Ten, we can't have Alabama beat us twice."