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The Cardinal Countdown: 66 Days Until Kickoff

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NCAA Football: Clemson at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

#66 Cole Bentley

Class: Sophomore

Ht/Wt: 6-3/316

Position: Offensive Line

Hometown: Lenore, WV

Twitter: @colebentley66

Thoughts: After following the countdown for a few years you all know me well enough to know that I am not a man who goes out of his way to tell you just how right I am about things. How I called Cole a stud last year, said he had pro-potential, said he would earn a starting spot by season’s end, etc, etc…I would never do that. Not cut that way. And I know that’s why you continue to follow along with me each and every day. My humbleness is unprecedented.

Cole on the other hand, he could brag a little if he wants. On paper many thought Bentley had the size and skill to earn some PT as a true freshman but we’ve seen it happen time and time again where a “paper giant” falls flat when the lights come on. Cole, just months removed from high school, took some time to get adjusted to D-I ball and learning Petrino’s lifelong manifesto, also known as the offensive playbook but then Bentley got some early run in 2017 due to Mekhi Becton’s injury, sliding McNeil over to tackle and letting Cole get some run at guard. Bentley played the last five games of the season, getting the start in three of them, and played extremely well in my opinion, especially in the run game. The departure of Geron Christian to the NFL leaves a pretty big vacancy up front, but I think Bentley is the early leader in the clubhouse to take that fifth spot. The question for me heading into fall is what “spot” will Cole take? The obvious answer is guard, but Summers has been giving him some reps at center as well during Spring ball. I would like to think these are just precautionary “we may need you as a backup” type reps since I like what Robbie Bell did there last year, but they could also see Cole sliding into the middle as an opportunity to keep him on the field if Bateman, Foy, or others prove they deserve significant time.

We’ll see how the fall plays out before we put a pin in Bentley at a certain position but one thing, in my mind at least, is for certain and that is Cole being a starter up front for the next few years. When you come back and read this post in 2020 and think “wow, this guy is so smart”, just remember a man of my caliber would never publicly admit that. Just not my style.

***

Game 10: Syracuse Orange

Key Player: Moe Neal & Dontae Strickland, Running backs, Junior & Senior

For the first time in the ‘Opponent Key Player’ breakdowns we have a two man game. Neal and Strickland look to split the load at running back for the Orange in 2018, picking up where they left off in 2017. Of course, the rushing game in general will likely still run through now Senior QB Eric Dungey, but ‘Moedantae’ (I just made that up, sooo...trademark, copyright, all that jazz) will look to become a bigger piece of the offense as Dungey once again works his way back from injury. If you play the odds you would have to think that ten games and eleven calendar weeks into the 2018 season the Card defense is bound to be banged up some. The reason I picked the backs from Syracuse is that Louisville will be coming off a tough game against Clemson right after battling Wake the week prior. This is the time of the year we see just how strong and how well prepared the two deep is for a challenge up front. Can guys number six and seven on the defensive line make enough plays to keep ‘Moedontae’ contained or do they allow them to keep the game close late and rely on the Cards offense to put it away once again? Make no mistake, it’s the Cards offensive firepower that has ended this specific game early the last few seasons. In fact, if you look back on the last three years the Card’s have averaged 53 points/game against the Orange, a score that’s tough for anyone to keep up with. The Dungey/Babers combo has made me nervous the last couple years because I respect what Babers can do offensively and I think when healthy Dungey is a top 3 ACC AB. All we saw in those two seasons was the ‘Welcome to the World, Lamar’ game in 62-28 beatdown back in 2016 and a 4 touchdown 370+ yard performance from Lamar against a Dungey-less Orange in a 56-10 win in 2017. The Orange have not sniffed a win against UofL since the Cards joined the ACC in 2014, but if they’re banged up, and Cuse is healthy, we could be in for a tough game in the Dome. Just ask Clemson about overlooking them.

Sweet Tweet:

I may need a refresher course on the laws of buoyancy but I know that poor water was strugglin’ to keep Cole afloat. 6-3 and over three bills likely had Mr. H2O begging for a pool noodle or three.

O-Linemen fish man. Hop back in that boat, bro.