South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp watched his quarterback take command this weekend.
The Gamecocks went through their first scrimmage of August, 140 plays with 50 for Jake Bentley. Muschamp had watched the young passer go through similar scrimmages in the spring, but he saw something different this time.
“More command and overall knowledge, getting people lined up, redirecting the protection,” Muschamp said. “It’s a different player at quarterback right now as far as his knowledge of what we do and what we need to be successful.”
One could forgive Bentley for being lacking there last fall. He spent half the season looking like he’d redshirt, all after skipping his senior season of high school to enroll early.
But he was thrown into the fire, performed well enough (1,420 yards, 65.8 completion percentage, nine TDs, four interceptions), but there were moments his youth showed.
He took a lot of sacks, 24 in seven starts, and coaches in the offseason said he didn’t have the command of things to coordinate protections or adjust as needed.
He’s had a spring and an offseason since those seven games and caught up in a lot of those areas.
It might only be a pair of a natural Year 1 to Year 2 jump, but it unlocks something for USC.
“I think he’s a calming influence for our offense as far as getting a receiver on or off the ball, getting a tight end in the right spot, redirecting the protection,” Muschamp said. “We’re putting a lot on his plate, deservedly so.”