Jake Bentley takes on Tennessee again, this time with South Alabama

Field Level Media

November 19, 2021 at 6:43 am.

Quarterback Jake Bentley led South Carolina to three straight victories against Tennessee from 2016-2018.

Two schools and a torn medial collateral ligament later, could Bentley beat the Volunteers again?

The sixth-year South Alabama senior, who spent last season at Utah, returned to practice this week in advance of the Jaguars’ nonconference game Saturday night in Knoxville, Tenn.

Bentley suffered the injury during the first quarter of a Nov. 6 loss at Troy. He missed last week’s 31-7 defeat at Appalachian State with a heavy brace on his leg.

The Jaguars (5-5) could certainly use him Saturday. Bentley started the first nine games this season, completing 70.5% of his passes for 2,125 yards and 15 touchdowns with five interceptions.

“Jake had a good workout (Tuesday),” Jaguars coach Kane Wommack said. “He’s looking good and moving around a little bit, throwing the ball. So, we’ll see how it goes. He’s a fighter, and from a pain and stability standpoint, I think we’re a lot further ahead than where we thought we were going to be.”

The Volunteers (5-5) and their quarterback, Hendon Hooker, have experienced highs and lows the past two weeks.

Hooker threw a career-high four touchdown passes Nov. 6 in a 45-42 victory against No. 18 Kentucky, the Volunteers’ first road win against a top-20 opponent since 2006.

But Hooker had two turnovers, a lost fumble and an interception, and was sacked five times in last week’s 41-17 home loss to top-ranked Georgia.

“We were just a little bit off. A couple throws sailed on him,” Volunteers coach Josh Heupel said of Hooker.

With Tennessee still needing one victory over its final two regular-season games to become bowl-eligible, Heupel said he doesn’t expect his Southeastern Conference team to overlook the Jaguars of the Sun Belt Conference.

“This Saturday, the next opponent is the only one we get to play this week,” Heupel said. “We need to be ready to go play.”

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