David Cloninger

Commentary: Jake Bentley should stay on bench, but USC will win

South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley
South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley Special to The State

This is the kind of game scheduled to give the home team a break, and South Carolina needs one. What it seems to be hinging on is the quarterback.

Does starting Jake Bentley trigger a 1992-esque comeback, helping the Gamecocks make something out of nothing? In my mind, a QB makes scant difference in USC’s offensive inefficiency, considering he probably won’t be able to get the running game started and every defense will know it.

The Gamecocks have an opportunity to score more than 20 points this week, and that’s with any QB under center. This could be the perfect opportunity to get Perry Orth and Brandon McIlwain well and keep the redshirt on Bentley, leaving him a better opportunity to produce in the future and giving McIlwain a chance to do the same.

I know Will Muschamp wants to win now, which is why Bentley is a consideration. But the Gamecocks should be able to win now against UMass regardless of quarterback, and then set up for a reeling Tennessee team next week. Make the right decisions at quarterback there, and who knows what could happen?

My opinion is to keep Bentley on the bench, but I know he’s probably going to play this week. So we’ll talk about that afterward. For this week, USC should win – notice, I didn’t say comfortably win.

USC 21, UMASS 15

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