Sunday is a big day for Jake Bentley.
A future-deciding day.
Bentley, South Carolina’s senior quarterback, suffered a Lisfranc injury to his left foot in the season-opening loss to North Carolina. He was initially expected to be out for six to eight weeks, but it could be a season-ending injury if he decides to have surgery.
Bentley got a second opinion from doctors on Friday and will meet with head coach Will Muschamp Sunday to decide on how to proceed. His decision will determine whether he returns this season and possibly his future at South Carolina.
“We got a second opinion and I talked to [his dad] Bobby [Bentley] very briefly,” Muschamp said Saturday. “Our focus is on the game right now. We will visit on Sunday and once the family makes a decision, we will make a decision moving forward. I don’t know all the variables right now so I don’t want to comment outside of what they have told me.”
Bentley, a three-year starter, spent the past week dealing with the injury, but also helping starting quarterback Ryan Hilinski prepare for his first career start and backup Dakereon Joyner get ready for his role as the backup and dual threat.
With his foot in a boot and moving around on a scooter, Bentley greeted every player as they entered the locker room Saturday. He spent pregame warmups on the field, watching Hilinski and Joyner and offering advice.
“He’s been awesome. He’s been at practice every single day and in every single quarterback meeting and meeting extra with Ryan and Dakereon both,” Muschamp said. “That’s who Jake is, a great Gamecock.
“It’s just very unfortunate his situation and what has transpired. He would tell you, just like I would, ‘man down, man up.’ He understands that process in this game. It’s a very unfair game at times, that’s just the way it is. I hurt for him, but I appreciate the way he has handled it.”
Joyner said Bentley’s leadership had a big impact on South Carolina’s performance in the 72-10 win over Charleston Southern. Hilinski completed 24 of 30 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns and Joyner had a 41-yard touchdown run as the Gamecocks rolled up a school-record 775 yards of total offense.
“I think that was one of the biggest things coming into this,” Joyner said. “He has confidence in us, even before this all played out. Jake is a great guy, he is a great leader.
“Just to see him handling this situation well, it played a huge factor. He believed in us and he had confidence in us and I think we took that and ran with it.”