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Outback Bowl MVP Jake Bentley

January 1, 2018

Outback Bowl: Michigan vs South Carolina Gamecocks
Monday, January 1, 2018
Jake Bentley
South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina - 26, Michigan - 19

JAKE BENTLEY: Big win for us. That trophy is not going in my room or my house or anything that has to do with me. It's going in our offensive team room because it really was about everyone on our offense today. I mean, it wasn't just me; it was our receivers, it was our O-line. We went against some grown men on the D-linemen today, and man coverage all day, then the guys made plays. This trophy is for all of us, it's not just to me.

Q. You're down 19-3. Any special words in the huddle?
JAKE BENTLEY: Not really. The big thing that I've learned, I guess, playing as a freshman, I just go back to the Florida game my freshman year. If things aren't going well, and I was just sitting on the bench just by myself not saying anything. So this year feel like I've done a better job, and I think it really showed today of just staying positive, continuing to go down the line along the bench and just stay positive and just keep the guys encouraged. Not one person on our offense got discouraged. Everyone had full confidence that we were going to come back and win. And that's what it takes when you get down. If you have one guy that doesn't believe we're going to win, you're not going to win. That's why I go back to it's really about the whole offense to get this award.

Q. How did it go in terms of the interaction with Bryan (McClendon) today?
JAKE BENTLEY: What do you mean, like just --

Q. Did you notice a difference? How different was your experience?
JAKE BENTLEY: You know, what we said we were going to run in practice, we did. I mean, they told us we were going to be aggressive and challenge these guys, and that's what we went out and did, and the guys made plays. You know, it's just everyone had complete confidence in him. I think it showed through bowl practice. I think we scored more touchdowns on our defense in bowl practice than we did all season, and just being able to come out, just do that all preparation leading up to this and then come out and play well is just a great feeling.

Q. Any changes schematically? Did you start making adjustments or did you just start making plays?
JAKE BENTLEY: I think a little bit of both. I think if you look at it, like Coach said, the 3rd and short, I don't think there was another 3rd and short plan, but we had other plays that worked and we used some of them on 2nd and short and other situations. So I think it's just a little change up in plays, and I think we also just said enough is enough, and we're going to go make some plays.

Q. After the turnover did you know right away what you wanted to do?
JAKE BENTLEY: Yeah, I mean, that was the big thing coming into the game. We said if we get a turnover we're taking -- we're taking a shot. Bryan made a great catch, unbelievable catch. Just a big momentum play for us and just a big play overall.

Q. On that pass to Shi (Smith), what did you see?
JAKE BENTLEY: Man to man coverage. I mean, that's pretty much what they were doing the whole game. We did a lot of fake snaps and did a check with coach. Coach McClendon called a great play to a great player. He makes the guy miss and makes a big play for us and takes it to the house. Once again, it's about the whole offense being really great today.

Q. Jake, the second half, was that groove as comfortable as you've been in a while? What was going through your head?
JAKE BENTLEY: What was going through my mind is it was getting colder. I think the rain was getting closer. But no, we started executing well. Obviously when you're feeling good and completing passes, you get going, and you get fired up. That's the big thing going into this game, celebrate the good things, and we throw a touchdown, everyone is jumping around and excited, and I think it's contagious to the whole team. When we started having success and getting fired up, I think you see where we went from there, so I think that's a big thing is just once you get positivity going, just to keep rolling with it.

Q. What was the difference in the O-line play in the second half, especially late in the half?
JAKE BENTLEY: I think just put the foot down. Said enough is enough. I think that's kind of the whole mindset of everyone. You know, they started to really stone the guys on the line of scrimmage. I think they were in great shape to do that. Four quarters of battling with those guys takes a lot, and I give it to them. They did a great job for me tonight. That's all I ask them is to play hard for me. I don't try to fix technique or what to do, I just tell them to play hard, and that's what they did.

Q. When did you know that Rico (Dowdle) was going to be available, and how much was he helpful to you?
JAKE BENTLEY: I mean, Rico could just have surgery and the next day he'd tell you that he's playing. He always told me that he's playing, and I guess pregame I really knew, him being out there and feeling good running around. And he made a big play for us on the option. Really just caught it and just determined to score. Wasn't going to let anybody tackle him until he got in the end zone, so big play for us.

Q. If you got a vote, would you vote for Bryan McClendon to be the full time offensive coordinator?
JAKE BENTLEY: You know, I'm not going to get into that. You know, I just let Coach Muschamp handle all that decision. I think in the win here today helps his chances, obviously, against the No. 1 pass defense in the nation. I fully believe in Coach Muschamp that he's going to make the right decision.

Q. Talk about what the adjustments were at halftime.
JAKE BENTLEY: You know, I think we started to really get the outside run going, giving me some plays where I've got to check the right, to the right look, check the play to the right look. I think those started to hit. And then, like I said, the guys -- just a mindset change, I guess. For me I just wanted to give them a chance. I think if you look at the 3rd down to Hayden, just giving it to your best player on the field. My dad always calls him "Big Boy;" just throw it to Big Boy, he'll make a play for you. That's what he did, and I think the guys just started making plays. What I said earlier, just the positivity that we've got going, and it just started rolling.

Q. Was it the process that was different or was it just a different voice?
JAKE BENTLEY: Yeah, I mean, I think the guys just are confident in what we're doing. But like I said, I think it starts in practice, having success in practice, and I think the guys were really confident coming into the game.

Q. How important is it for South Carolina's program to go into an off season program with a win?
JAKE BENTLEY: Yeah, I think it just propels us even more. Last year there was a few weeks where we had to get over the loss, and you kind of just -- that mental block, I guess, of hey, we just lost our last game, but I think the guys are going to come back hungry. Now they know what it feels like to win a big bowl game, and they want more. That's what we're going to do, and that's what Coach Muschamp told us in the locker room after, that it's all gas when we come back, and pedal to the metal getting to work.

Q. How much credit do you give the defense to holding Michigan to field goals instead of touchdowns? Was there ever any point in the game where maybe Skai or Chris or Taylor came up to you and gave you their vote of confidence?
JAKE BENTLEY: Yeah, I mean, that was huge. I mean, to hold a -- I said this stat earlier, to hold a run offense to not a lot of yards was huge, and to be able to stop them when they have short fields, I mean, gives us a chance to come back into the game. Obviously without holding them to field goals, we probably wouldn't have won if you look at the score.

But during the game, the third quarter actually, Keir Thomas came up to me and kind of just challenged me. He said, I want the same energy and the same confidence I see in practice, and when it hit me, I kind of like -- oh, I'm trying. Then I thought about it, you know, he's right. We've got to have the same juice always. Really from then on, we just started clicking. I just started riding the momentum and got the win.

Q. Michigan has been around for a long time; how nice is it for you to be able to beat a team of that stature?
JAKE BENTLEY: Yeah, I mean, obviously Michigan has got a history that we don't, and to be able to beat them and get a W is huge. But building up to the game, I mean, this is a different Michigan team than it was last year or two years or back in their history. It's just trying to take it game by game, but just getting a big bowl win I think is the biggest thing for us right now.

Q. What was that moment like with your father after the game?
JAKE BENTLEY: Yeah, I mean, freshman year the first game I got hurt, so I really didn't get coached by him, and then I moved my sophomore year of high school. So man, it's just one of those things you grow up, you see your brothers get to get coached by him and celebrate with him on the sideline. It's something that I've always wanted, and just to be able to do that today and to be able to come back like we did, I don't know, just the emotion of winning just was special having him there, and I seen my mom and my brother just coming down after, too. Just a special moment for me, something that I always wanted to happen, being on the sideline, being able to win the game with him.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports