It's safe to say that when Jake Bentley transferred to the Utah from South Carolina this past spring, it was met with high expectations.
Before ever playing a game, let alone being named the starting quarterback, Bentley was named to both the Maxwell and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm preseason award watch lists.
But due to the COVID-19 pandemic that wiped out all of a spring and summer season for Bentley with his new team, he entered fall camp a step or two behind sophomore Cameron Rising.
Throughout a close battle in the camp, it became clear to head coach Kyle Whittingham and his staff that Rising had earned the starting quarterback role, relegating Bentley to a backup role.
“It was a tight race but there was enough separation,” Whittingham said during camp. “It was a unanimous decision among the coaches that were involved. But again, it was not a great deal of margin between the two. But it was close. We liked them both, we like Drew Lisk for that matter. But Cam has done a better job all throughout camp, when all said and done and all the numbers pointed out that way as well, as far as completion percentage, and all the things that we track. That’s why we made that decision.”
He took the role in stride, doing what he could to help prepare Rising for the season while being named a team captain and a member of Utah's leadership council.
It took less than a half for Bentley to make his mark in a Utah uniform when he entered the game on Utah's fifth possession of its season opener against USC on Saturday night.
On the first play of the second quarter, Rising was sacked by the Trojans and fumbled. As he attempted to recover the ball, he was hit and landed on awkwardly. Once back on the sidelines, he was immediately checked out by trainers and Bentley began warming up. He took over on the next series.
Bentley finished the game 16-for-28 for 171 yards and a touchdown, throwing two interceptions as well. He was under duress for most of the night as the offensive line struggled in the trenches against USC's athleticism and physicality.
During his press conference on Tuesday morning, Whittingham said that Rising has suffered a season-ending injury and that Bentley will officially be the guy moving forward. It's unknown what Rising's injury is but some early reports are that he suffered a shoulder injury.
There were moments, especially when given a decent amount of time, that Bentley looked good in the pocket and were through his reads comfortably. His ability to spin out of trouble and not panic was evident multiple times — but there were also times where he definitely looked like somebody who hadn't taken a meaningful snap in over a year.
He showcases the ability to make the throws needed to keep the offense moving — and surprisingly enough showed off his dual-threat abilities with a long run that caught nearly everyone by surprise.
“You saw Jake came in and did a nice job. Cam (Rising) is more mobile, more escape ability out of the pocket, although Jake pulled ball down,” Whittingham said postgame. “That’s probably our longest run of the night. The big run when he escaped."
Bentley and the Utes will return to action on Sunday when they face Arizona State down in Tempe. Kickoff and broadcast are still TBD. Both teams will enter looking to pickup their first wins of the season after having suffered losses to USC.
Want to share opinions or ask questions? We want to hear them! Making a profile is free and it only takes ~1 minute to set up. Also, be sure to like us on social media for future coverage: