Why Alabama football roster transfer portal losses can help Nick Saban at Sugar Bowl | Goodbread

Keyboard keynotes ...

With a dozen Alabama football players and counting entering the transfer portal, the Crimson Tide will be a bit short-handed in its Sugar Bowl matchup against Kansas State, particularly along the offensive line, where it's lost a starter in Javion Cohen and some depth as well.

But the game will also provide a fairly unique snapshot in time that will help reveal what Alabama needs from the portal. And UA coach Nick Saban will certainly be dipping into the portal to bolster his team with some experienced players to go along with what could be the nation's No. 1-ranked recruiting class for 2023.

Among other positions, Alabama figures to need help on the offensive line, at wide receiver and at safety. The Sugar Bowl will offer the coaching staff a stripped-down glimpse of the roster without the portal exits, without any incoming freshmen, and perhaps without opt-outs, if any draft-eligible players decide to skip the bowl. It will be a bare-bones version of itself that will more clearly expose weaknesses than any regular season game could hope to.

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Yes, there's value in winning the game and being remembered as a team that didn't fold without a championship to play for, and to that end, Alabama is better off going to New Orleans with as much talent as possible. But from the standpoint of evaluating for 2023, it's just the opposite; in that regard, players not returning next year only cloud the future picture.

Of course, a complete examination of portal damage won't be available for months; players can continue to enter the portal through Jan. 18, and those disappointed with their playing roles after spring practice will have another chance to do so in April.

But the Sugar Bowl is where the re-set begins, and as the UA coaching staff begins to sift through what's available in the portal, the matchup with Kansas State will provide the best evidence of need.

Can be yours

With the 40th anniversary of legendary Alabama coach Paul W. "Bear" Bryant's last game at Alabama approaching, the gavel is about to bang on two personal items of his available in an online auction. Leland's is offering a crimson jacket once worn by Bryant with a starting bid of $2,500 that, as of this writing, hasn't been bid on at all yet. The other is a houndstooth hat;  Bryant's name is inscribed in the interior of both items. Bidding ends Saturday.

Flying high

Former Alabama QB Jalen Hurts' breakout season in the NFL is getting better by the week. The NFC Offensive Player of the Week for the last two weeks, the Philadelphia Eagles star is completing 68 percent of his passes with a 20-3 TD-INT ratio. Hurts' passer rating of 108.3 ranks third in the NFL, and when you factor in his rushing exploits (609 yards, third in the NFL among quarterbacks), he's a serious MVP candidate on an 11-1 team.

Reach Chase Goodbread at cgoodbread@gannett.com. Follow on Twitter @chasegoodbread.

Tuscaloosa News sport columnist Chase Goodbread.
Tuscaloosa News sport columnist Chase Goodbread.

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Alabama football transfer portal losses help Nick Saban at Sugar Bowl