Why this year's Carolina-Clemson clash feels different
South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley told Fox Carolina in May that the Tigers “weren’t that much better than us or better than us at all” after Clemson defeated USC 56-7 last November.
Tigers defenders Kendall Joseph and Clelin Ferrell were asked about Bentley’s comments on Monday and took up for South Carolina’s sophomore quarterback.
“Well, he’s entitled to his own opinion. If I was on that team, I’d want my quarterback to say the same thing and have that confidence,” Joseph said.
Bentley was 7 for 17 passing for 41 yards with an interception in his first start against Clemson last year. He was replaced in the second half by Brandon McIlwain.
The Tigers led 35-0 at halftime and poured it on in the second half with Kelly Bryant finishing off the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:07 remaining for the final 49-point margin.
South Carolina players called the loss embarrassing afterward and vowed that another such loss would not take place again.
Bentley then made strong remarks a few months later, claiming that the talent gap between the two schools is minimal or nonexistent.
“Obviously he’s a competitor, so he’s going to think his team is just as good as ours and just as good as any team they play and they can compete, which you should,” Ferrell said. “Last year they didn’t really put on the performance that they wanted to. We know that at home this year, night game, the last game of the season for them, they’re definitely going to want to come out and try to put this one to bed and show that they feel like last year was a mistake on their part.”
Bentley has led South Carolina to an 8-3 mark this season, including a 5-1 record at home.
He is completing better than 63 percent of his passes and has thrown for 2,429 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Ferrell added that Bentley has been a big part of the Gamecocks’ success.
“He’s a vocal leader for them. That’s one of the things I remember for them last year. Even though they didn’t play their best game last year, I just remember seeing him try to get those guys to rally behind him and just trying to keep everybody on their team encouraged,” Ferrell said.
“He’s not just the quarterback. He’s a vocal leader for that team, and he’s a guy that everybody looks to for a boost and to get some juice out of the team.”