Jake Bentley suddenly South Carolina’s running man – The State
From up high, the move didn’t look that effective.
Jake Bentley threw the little head fake. Somehow the defender bit, and the odyssey that was Bentley’s first college rushing touchdown (a 19-yarder) was underway.
“All the guys were making fun of me, saying it was the slowest juke move they’ve ever seen,” Bentley said. “I don’t care. It worked.”
He joked he might even show up in the running back room this week.
Bentley has always been understatedly athletic. He can move. He’s tall enough that his long strides let him get moving. But he was also highly valuable to the Gamecocks’ football team, and letting him take hits was not in the cards.
But the South Carolina running game needed a little more, and of late, he’s been able to oblige.
Against Vanderbilt, Bentley went for 47 yards on six carries. Three of his runs went for 11 or more yards. He looked to take off a bit more, and it helped out his teammates.
“After I pull a few times, the next time, it’s going to make a guy stop his feet, maybe for an extra second,” Bentley said. “Allow our running backs to break an arm tackle.”
Bentley was a solid runner in his lone season as a starter in high school at Opelika High School in Alabama. He had 340 yards on 63 carries, an average of 5.4 even with sacks taken into account.
And he was even more of a runner before then.
“Believe it or not, in middle school and little league, I used to run a lot. I was bigger than everyone. Now there’s big D-linemen that I’m not bigger than.”
Bentley did show the downside of getting into the mix was the hits. Bentley took at least one shot to the head when he tried to scramble and extend a play, and on another, he slid out of bounds and took a knee to the head (Will Muschamp argued vociferously for a penalty to be called).
But his legs proved vital in USC’s win, and brought out the peanut gallery.
Who does his running style remind a teammate of?
“Like Mike Vick if you ask me,” safety Steven Montac said.
But it also earns some concern from friends.
“Sometimes I wish he’s slide a little bit sooner,” tackle Zack Bailey said. “Every time he runs, it’s like the last second … it scares me.”