Josh Kendall

Jake Bentley: ‘Whole culture around our team this year is so much different’

South Carolina may have salvaged its season with last week’s win over Arkansas.

The Gamecocks (4-2, 2-2 SEC) were coming off two straight SEC losses with an underwhelming one-point win over Louisiana Tech sandwiched in between when they took on the Razorbacks. A rollicking 48-22 win helped South Carolina regain some of the momentum it had lost after the first two games of the season and set up the team for a second half that starts with winnable games against Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Although things might have looked tenuous from the outside, they never felt that way from the inside, quarterback Jake Bentley said.

“The whole culture around our team this year is so much different than last year,” the sophomore said. “Last year when we were struggling there might have been some finger pointing, blaming of other people, but this year when things get tough I feel like we really rally around each other more. I think that’s evident in the way we responded this past game, just playing more together as a team this year, really caring about one another.”

Running back A.J. Turner echoed that sentiment.

“I definitely feel like there’s a difference,” Turner said. “I feel like a lot more people care more and a lot more people are involved and willing to do whatever it takes to win. Everyone is being unselfish. This time last year we didn’t have as many people doing that and as many people bought into the program.”

Head coach Will Muschamp credited his team’s veterans for that.

“I think we have a very close knit team,” he said. “I've been very pleased by how our older guys have accepted our younger players in the program and how they've helped them along to mature through this process.”

With Saturday’s win, South Carolina rose above .500 under Muschamp. The Gamecocks are now 10-9 in his 19 games as head coach.

“There’s a lot of football to play,” Muschamp said. “We've got to continue to improve.”