In some circles, the expectations for South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley might have gotten too high for 2016.
“He may miss a throw or two here or there, and I know that shocks everybody, but that does happen every now and then,” head coach Will Muschamp said.
It has through South Carolina’s first two games. The Gamecocks sophomore starter has directed his team to a 2-0 record and has shown off his exponentially increased knowledge of the team’s playbook, but he’s missed some open receivers. Most notably, there was tight end Hayden Hurst down the right sideline early in the Missouri game, but there have been others. Enough to make some people wonder. Some people not including his head coach.
“He’s a guy that’s progressed tremendously in knowledge of our scheme, our system, run game, pass game, protections, where to take the ball, making fast decisions, quick decisions. There’s not a lot I’ve been upset with, to be honest with you,” Muschamp said. “Are there some things that he can do better and we can coach better? Absolutely, there’s no doubt about that, and he’ll be the first one to sit here and critique himself, but that’s what really good players do. They critique themselves and they always see room for improvement and he certainly does as well. I’ve been extremely pleased with how he’s played.”
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As for the misfires, offensive coordinator Kurt Roper has spoken with Bentley during games about calming down and “getting into the groove of the game,” Muschamp said. Bentley, who completed 66 percent of his passes in seven starts last year, is sixth in the SEC through two games with a 61.4 percent completion rate this year (one spot behind Kentucky starter Stephen Johnson). Bentley is fifth in the SEC in passing yards with 201 per game.
“It’s a 60-minute game, he’ll make his throws,” Muschamp said.
It’s likely Bentley’s accuracy will improve the further South Carolina gets into the season and he settles down and gets into his groove. Even if it doesn’t, Muschamp will trade the small amount of bad he gets every now and then for the large amount of good he gets every day of the week, especially on Saturdays.