Quarterback Jake Bentley had a career-high three interceptions in South Carolina’s 28-20 win over Florida on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium. Each came in a bad spot and could have led to Florida points or might’ve taken USC points off the board.
The first was a miscommunication that nearly became a pick-six (if not for Hayden Hurst’s heroics). The second came when a safety made a good read inside Florida’s 15. The third one, Bentley admitted, can’t happen when he should have thrown it away or taken a sack.
“At the end of the day we won,” Bentley said. “It’s a lot better to learn from something with a W than the other way around.”
The three interceptions was the most of Bentley’s young career. He’s thrown two in the same game three times and had 10 total in 16 games.
What was more notable was that Saturday’s turnovers changed USC’s approach.
USC coach Will Muschamp admitted the staff went more conservative. Fifteen of the next 17 USC plays were runs (though one was a Bentley scramble). USC’s running game was working, and the Gamecocks coaches wanted a specific effect on their signal caller.
“We honed it in a little bit,” Muschamp said. “That was something, just to calm him down. At the end of the day, he’s an outstanding football player and I’m glad he’s our quarterback.”
Muschamp said the staff liked a pair of late run plays they called and both seemed like plays more likely to get solid gains. But they produced 0 and a loss of 3 inside USC’s 20.
Bentley threw for 249 yards, one of his better outputs of the season, while completing more than 65 percent of his passes. He scored twice Saturday on rushing touchdowns.