"Every player worked extremely hard in the program," Saban said Thursday in meeting with the media prior to the start of spring practice Saturday. "I can't tell you one that didn't make significant improvement in some area -- some lost weight, some got stronger, some got more endurance. I think this is an area where we have a lot of room for improvement, but I think we made significant improvement in the five-week period.
"And we need to continue to work on it after spring practice, through the summer, continue to work on it in the fall and in the future. This is important for durability, injury-prevent, sustainability. It's important for being able to win games in the fourth quarter. A well-conditioned football team is something we always strive for because of the intangible things relative to effort, toughness, and responsibility to do the job. It goes back to one thing: you have to be a well-conditioned athlete to do that because when you get tired it's not the same. You make mistakes, you loaf, you aren't able to execute as well. And those things come at a critical time of the game."
The off-season program was rigorous and the players were up to it, Saban said. "Between the strength and conditioning program and the Fourth Quarter Program...the players have been very willing. I think we've made significant improvement in some of those physical areas which hopefully will help us enhance our ability to sustain execution on the field when we get on the field in spring practice.
"The team was very willing in the off-season program. The work was beneficial. They worked hard. I think they understand the standard of what we expect in terms of discipline, giving effort, finish things -- finish plays, finish drills --, the mental toughness that it takes to persevere in a very taxing program.
"And I saw improvement in all those areas. Is it where we need to have it? Probably not quite. But we made progress. And we'll continue to work on those things through spring practice."