After losing his starting job early in the season due to a foot injury, former South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley has decided to transfer to Utah and become a Ute. However, will he find success in Utah after constant criticism by Gamecock fans?
To do that, many facets of both teams need to be analyzed, from the coaches to the receivers and many other parts.
Comparison: 2019 Huntley vs. 2018 Bentley
To better gauge Bentley’s ceiling and floor, it needs to be known how exactly he stacks up to his predecessor. Due to Bentley only playing in one game, a better comparison would be to match up Utah’s starting quarterback last year, Tyler Huntley, with Bentley’s 2018 season.
While neither quarterback has bad numbers, the advantage goes to Huntley. Statistically, he had the better season in most categories. For example, he had four interceptions compared to Bentley’s 14, a 73.1 percent completion rate compared to Bentley’s 61.9 percent, and a 177.6 QBR compared to Bentley’s 146.3.
The statistics showed in the results, as well, as Huntley guided the Utes to an 11-3 record, while Bentley’s Gamecocks played to the tune of 7-5. While these are two different teams, with different players and personnel surrounding their signal-callers, the difference in results is something to take note of.
Offensive Ranks: 2019 Utah vs. 2018 South Carolina
Again, the 2018 season is being used due to it being Bentley’s most recent full season. Much like the quarterback rankings, Utah holds the edge again here. Statistically, Utah’s offense was much better. The Utes averaged 32.3 points per game, ranking 38th in the country, compared to South Carolina’s 30.1 PPG, which ranked 57th in 2018.
That being said, Utah’s offense benefitted from a great defense, as the team only allowed 15.0 points per game, good for sixth in the country. Meanwhile, South Carolina somewhat struggled on defense, allowing 27.2 points per game, which ranked 69th out of 130 teams.
While the offensive rating does not lay entirely on the quarterback’s shoulders, as the captain of the offense, their performance significantly affects it.
The Competiton: 2019 Utah vs. 2018 South Carolina
Another important aspect of the comparison between the two quarterbacks is the level of competition they faced. As they play in two different conferences, Bentley in the SEC and Huntley in the PAC-12, their opponents will be far different, and as such, so will the strength of schedule. Here is where South Carolina has the advantage. In 2018, they played four teams that were ranked when they played them in No. 3-ranked Georgia, No. 17-ranked Kentucky, No. 19-ranked Florida, and No. 2-ranked Clemson.
Meanwhile, Utah may have been ranked for the entire season, but they only played two ranked teams: No. 17-ranked Arizona State and No. 13-ranked Oregon. While this does not entirely justify the difference in record between these two teams, it is something to note, as Bentley could benefit from easier competition.
In short, many factors will contribute to Bentley’s success (or potential lack thereof). While some of his statistics may be worrisome, such as his interception total and his completion percentage, Utah fans should be excited that they are replacing an experienced, four-year quarterback in Tyler Huntley with another experienced, four-year quarterback in Jake Bentley, who also has success in arguably the best conference in football and was considered NFL material at one point.
While there is no way to predict the exact level of success, things are looking up for both Bentley and Utah.