South Carolina senior quarterback Jake Bentley will enter the 2019 season with something to prove to a lot of people, but not to former Gamecocks teammate Dennis Daley.
“I feel like Jake Bentley is going to show people something,” Daley said. “Jake Bentley deserves more respect than he’s getting right now.”
Daley defended USC’s quarterback last week while at the NFL Combine, saying he thinks Bentley is unfairly criticized.
“Some people are frustrated with him because sometimes he’s up and down, but Jake Bentley is growing and I’ve got faith in him,” Daley said. “I feel like he’s going to prove a lot of people wrong this year.”
Bentley has started 31 of the last 32 games for South Carolina since taking over the job midway through his true freshman season. He has 7,385 career yards and will leave school as the Gamecocks’ all-time leading passer if he matches last year’s yardage total this year.
“I have been knowing Jake since he was seventh or eighth grade,” former South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel said at the combine. “He’s a great team leader.”
The chief complaints about Bentley’s play are centered around his 30 career interceptions (14 last year) and his 1-10 records against ranked teams.
“He gets rattled here and there, but you never see Jake hang his head,” Samuel said. “He’s always going to give you his all.”
Samuel met with Bentley after the “third or fourth” game of the 2018 season to assure the quarterback his team had faith in him, Samuel said. Bentley had seven touchdowns and six interceptions in the first four games last year. He had 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions in the final nine games.
“Early on we started off a little sluggish and he got down about himself, but me as a teammate and a leader, I went to him and said, ‘We believe in you, you go out there and play and we’re going to make things happen,’ ” Samuel said.
Daley believes Bentley will silence all his doubters this season. At the very least, Bentley will have plenty of chances to change his record against ranked teams. The Gamecocks play five teams next year who are ranked in Athlon Sports’ early Top 10 ranking for the 2019 season.
“I’ve got faith in him,” Daley said, “and I feel like he will show people.”