On Oct. 23, three days after South Carolina was beaten 26-23 by Texas A&M in Williams-Brice Stadium, Gamecocks junior quarterback Jake Bentley met with the media and said he intended to get a better, or at least different, handle on his emotions.
In the five games since, Bentley has completed 69.7 percent of his passes for 1,603 yards, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions, and South Carolina is 3-2. The Gamecocks (6-5) finish the regular season Saturday against Akron (4-7) in Williams-Brice Stadium.
“He’s an emotional guy,” head coach Will Muschamp said of Bentley. “That’s why he’s got the respect of his teammates. Are there times at that position you need to tone it down? Certainly you could point to things, but I’m glad he’s our quarterback. The confidence that our football team and our staff have in him is pretty evident. His emotions make him who he is. I think he’s played really good football. I thought he was pretty emotional Saturday night and I thought he played well. His emotions are fine with me.”
Muschamp said that a day after Bentley threw for a career-high 510 yards, five touchdowns and one interception against the nation’s No. 2 defense in a 56-35 loss to Clemson. Muschamp also said he hasn’t “noticed a whole lot of change” in Bentley’s emotions since the quarterback pledged to channel those emotions differently.
“He’s a competitive son of a gun now, he gets after it,” Muschamp said.
Bentley’s proclamation came after a video showing him slamming his helmet into a chair on the sideline against Texas A&M. In the five games prior to that, he had completed 60.5 percent of his passes for 1,151 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
“I have to be the same guy the whole game,” he said that week. “Motivation is temporary. We have to have the mindset to be fired up and be ready to go each and every play, each and every quarter. I have to be that even-keeled guy. If it’s going good or going bad, I want to be that guy that is consistent. Obviously, I’m an emotional guy. I get fired up more than some others, but I have to be able to control that.”
He’s controlling that, and everything else, better since that moment.