South Carolina never considered pulling starting quarterback Jake Bentley from the game after Bentley returned from a knee injury last season, offensive coordinator Bryan McClendon said Wednesday.
“Not that I remember, not during the game,” McClendon said. “That (would be) a staff decision. It’s a lot more than me.”
McClendon spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since the season ended. Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp traditionally makes his assistant coaches available to the media twice per year.
Bentley, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound senior, has started 32 of the last 33 South Carolina games. His only missed start came last year against Missouri when Michael Scarnecchia took over while Bentley nursed a knee sprain suffered against Kentucky.
Scarnecchia completed 20-of-35 passes for 249 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while leading a 37-35 win that featured a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.
Bentley returned to the starting lineup the next week against Texas A&M. The biggest reason Bentley went right back into the starting job was “he had seen a lot of the stuff that we were about to see. He had the cumulative reps,” McClendon said.
“He came back after that and played pretty decently for the most part,” McClendon said.
Bentley threw 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions in the final eight games of the season. He had seven touchdowns and six interceptions in the first four games of the season.
Bentley finished the season with 3,171 yards with a 61.9 percent completion percentage. He has 7,385 yards, 54 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. He has a chance this season to become the first 10,000-yard passer in school history and just the 10th in SEC history.
“The biggest thing that can’t do that I think Jake did at times last season is we can’t press,” McClendon said. “Can’t feel like, ‘I’ve got to do this.’ Take what they give you and play with what you see and go from there.”