Tide has 3 practices left before A-Day

Saban wants to see 'maturity' level of players

Anniston StarApril 11, 2014 

Alabama Spring Football

Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper (9) works through drills during NCAA college football spring football practice on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/AL.com, Vasha Hunt) MAGAZINES OUT

VASHA HUNT — AP

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- With two-thirds of the schedule complete, Alabama is in the home stretch of spring practice.

These are the dog days of spring, but Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban views it as a vital part of the preseason regime.

"I think at this point in spring practice what you look for is guys that can push through and sustain," Saban said. "I think you win games in February, March, April, June, July, summer conditioning program, winter conditioning program, spring practice. Because this is when guys learn how to push through the season.

"You develop the psychological endurance that you need so that you can endure the season.

It's a long season, it's a tough season, it's difficult. And you've got to learn how to fight through it. You've heard me say that before."

Saban wants to know if players on this team has the "maturity" to push through. That's something last year's team may have lacked.

When the book is written on Alabama's 2013 season, the focus will be on a team that lost its way at some point during the season and was never able to get back on track. Yes, Alabama finished with 11 wins, but its back-to-back losses to end the season speak more to the makeup of last year's group. Saban and multiple former Tide players have spoken out about what went wrong with some even saying they felt the collapse coming.

For the 2014 group, Saban wants to avoid complacency and other issues at all cost.

"Alabama football's supposed to be a tough, physical team that nobody really likes to play against," Saban said. "That's been our identity. We've lost that identity a little bit, I think, the way we finished the year last year. That's something that we've got to get back, and it's hard, and you really can't make it easy.

"The players have got to really understand that and ask themselves who they are and who they want to be and what they want to do."

Including today's scrimmage, the Tide has just three more practices before A-Day next Saturday, which is the Tide's 15th and final practice of spring.

"It's important to finish the spring the right way," Saban said. "I liked the effort and the intensity and the enthusiasm in the last scrimmage, and hopefully we can have that same energy and enthusiasm and do a little bit better job of executing this scrimmage coming up."

While Saban may have praised a few players and a group or two for their performances after the first scrimmage, don't expect many pats on the back going forward. Everyone must be held accountable in Saban's eyes.

"I want to see them all improve. There's nobody on our team that can't improve, including me," Saban said. "I can improve the way I'm coaching, coaches can improve what they do and every player on our team can improve. Every group on our team can improve."

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