South Carolina may have failed to live up to the preseason hype last fall but that hasn’t tempered the expectations in the Gamecock locker room heading into 2019.
In fact, the goals remain the same for South Carolina this season — win the SEC East and beat Clemson. That’s according to Jake Bentley, who met with the media on Monday to discuss the final spring camp of his playing career in Columbia.
“I think it’s the same team goals every year and that’s never going to change. I don’t think we get into too much, other than that — and that’s win the East and win the state. Every year, that’s our goal so I’m just going to stick with that and stay consistent with those two goals,” Bentley said to reporters in a video shared on YouTube by GamecockCentral.com.
Those goals haven’t changed despite having what appears to be one of the toughest schedules on paper heading into the 2019 season. The Gamecocks open the season against North Carolina in Charlotte before hosting the likes of Alabama, Kentucky (which the Gamecocks haven’t beaten in five seasons), Florida and Clemson, and includes trips to Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
“Every single year in the SEC, you are going to play a tough schedule,” Bentley commented when asked about his team’s slate. “Obviously, anyone can look at it and see we got Alabama this year too and they are a fantastic team. Everyone understands that and working hard to prepare for that.”
In addition to what the team is hoping to accomplish, what are Bentley’s personal goals? Performing better in the red zone is at the top of his list.
“I think the big one is the turnovers and understanding that whether it’s three or seven, it needs to be three or seven and not zero,” he continued. “That’s the big thing that we have talked about, Coach Muschamp and I understand that and I definitely have to take care of the ball better, especially down there. That’s just the way it is and that’s one thing we are working on this spring and really just going from there.”
Bentley led the SEC with 14 interceptions last season, which was a huge reason for South Carolina’s struggles on offense last season. He also completed just 61.9 percent of his passes, which marked a career low for him. Now that he’s playing in the same offensive system for the second consecutive season, Bentley needs to show more consistency and progress if South Carolina has any chance at reaching its goals with the difficult schedule that faces them in the fall.