Jake Bentley did a lot of talking in the months leading up to Saturday’s game against Clemson, spearheading South Carolina’s vow to “never again” lose to Clemson like it did in 2016 and saying the Tigers were “not that much better” than the Gamecocks or better than them at all despite Clemson’s 56-7 win over South Carolina last season.
The South Carolina quarterback was much more quiet in his team’s 34-10 loss to Clemson on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium, where he threw for just 126 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. He was virtually muted by the Tigers’ defense, which consistently put pressure on him and disrupted his rhythm over the course of the game.
“I felt like we did a good job of getting to him a little bit, batting balls down, things like that,” said Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, who had a couple of pass breakups in the contest. “We had a few of those. Just things that could mess with a quarterback’s rhythm and keep him from getting going. That’s something we did pretty well.
“You have to do that a lot, find different ways — other than getting sacks and hitting them — you have to find other ways to get pressure, interceptions, batting down balls, things like that. That definitely helped our case.”
While Wilkins only recorded one quarterback hurry, he found another way to get to Bentley. Wilkins stayed in Bentley’s ear throughout the game, doing a lot of talking to him as he tried to get into his head and rattle the opposing signal-caller.
Asked on Monday about the chit-chat, Wilkins called it a “fun conversation” with Bentley.
“I was just having a general conversation with him, as far as getting into his head,” Wilkins said with a wry smile. “Just asked him what he had for pregame meal and stuff like that. Just had a good fun conversation with him.”
It was especially fun for Wilkins, who won his third game against the Gamecocks in as many years at Clemson — an accomplishment the first-team All-ACC defensive tackle is certainly proud of.
“It’s big because I know what the rivalry means,” Wilkins said. “First of all just going undefeated and beating a team three years in a row, that’s obviously big. But the fact that it’s a rivalry and everything, it’s really big. It’s important and means a lot to me, and I know it means a lot to other people. It’s a testament to the hard work and preparation we put in each year and each and every week preparing for games.”