You have to appreciate Jake Bentley’s competitive attitude. You have to appreciate the fact he wants to be a better football player and he wants his South Carolina team to be a better football team.
There is nothing wrong at all with that. However, when he says, Clemson was “not that much better than us or better than us at all” publically, you really cannot appreciate that.
It is one thing to think it, but it’s a whole other thing to publicly say it, especially after the defending national champions destroyed Bentley and the Gamecocks’ 56-7 in Death Valley last November.
Whether he believes it himself or his teammates believe it, Bentley just slapped the face of Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence, Clelin Ferrell and the rest of the Clemson football team. His comment makes him sound like he has no respect for what Clemson did in that game or all of last season.
Why in the world did South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp allow him to say those words to Fox Carolina’s Aaron Cheslock, who reported they story on Bentley and his father Bobby on how they are trying to close the gap with Clemson, and how last year’s game is providing motivation for the Gamecocks.
Jake Bentley is basically saying South Carolina was the whole reason for the 49-point beat down, and Clemson had nothing to do with it.
“We just did not play well that week,” Bentley told Fox Carolina. “That is our big quote going into this year, just feel like we got out worked … so our big thing is never again will we be out worked. Never again, will we be out competed in a game like that.
“It all stems from that game. Just because at the end of the game, everyone knew they were not that much better than us or better than us at all, but it really just lit a fire in everybody and since that week everybody has really worked harder and wanted it more.”
So everyone knew Clemson was not that much better than South Carolina. I’m assuming when Bentley says “everyone” he is talking about the Gamecocks themselves because every one of the 81,542 fans in Clemson Memorial Stadium on that chilly night knew Clemson was better. Every one of the millions of people watching on television knew Clemson was better.
He was right, Clemson did outwork the Gamecocks and Clemson did outplay them, but even if the Gamecocks played their best game and competed at the highest level they could possibly complete at, they still would not have stopped Clemson. The game might have been a little closer, but not by much.
From the start, the game was over. Deshaun Watson already threw three touchdown passes before Bentley and the Gamecocks secured their initial first down in the second quarter.
The Gamecocks lone touchdown came on a trick play when the score was already 42-0 in the third quarter. South Carolina totaled just 218 total yards, including just 41 yards passing from Bentley on 7-of-17 passes.
If you recall, Bentley was not even in the game when USC scored its lone touchdown, he had already been replaced after he injured his knee just before halftime. The quarterback spent the entire first half on his backside after constantly being pressured a sacked by linebacker Ben Boulware and others.
The Tigers’ sacked Bentley three times.
The Gamecocks did not give Clemson anything. They had just one turnover the entire game and that came after Bentley was picked off by safety Jadar Johnson on their second offensive possession. They only had five penalties for 54 yards.
So how did Clemson beat South Carolina by the second-largest margin of victory in the rivalry’s history, and the largest by an ACC team over an SEC team? Simple! Clemson was clearly the better team and the gap is not close.
Watson tied his own Clemson record and became the first quarterback in the history of the rivalry to throw six touchdown passes in a game, and he did that in less than three quarters. Wide receiver Mike Williams is still carrying South Carolina defensive back Jamarcus King on his back.
Williams literally carried King on his back as he scored on a 19-yard slant in the first quarter. He also climbed over King for a 34-yard touchdown and just before halftime caught a 16-yard touchdown from Watson as well.
Williams finished the game with six catches for 100 yards and was the first player in the history of the rivalry to catch three touchdowns.
The Tigers finished the game with 622 yards of total offense and could have done more, but Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney called off the dogs.
So when Bentley said, “they were not that much better than us or better than us at all.” He was wrong. Clemson was every bit of its 49 points better than South Carolina and thanks to Bentley’s words, that “Never Again” rallying cry they are using “Will Happen Again” when they host Clemson this coming November.
Bentley and the Gamecocks probably would have been better off had he kept that comment to himself.
–Above photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports