By Shehan Jeyarajah
After three years of backing up Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence, fourth year junior Bryce Petty played in his first career collegiate start at quarterback.
“Being out there, it was very humbling,” Petty said. “Just a blessing. It wasn’t necessarily a blur, but I was just in the moment.”
Petty looked poised early in the pocket, finishing 7-8 with 113 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter, including a 27-yard bomb to Antwan Goodley in the back of the end zone.
Trouble ensued early in the second quarter when Petty had a stretch of having a ball batted down from his hand for a fumble, dropping a snap and throwing a pass to a defender that was mercifully dropped.
“There were a couple times I felt rushed,” Petty said. “It wasn’t necessarily anything they did, it was more just mental, but that comes with being out there. It’s part of getting the experience out there.”
Senior wide receiver Tevin Reese was dismissive of Petty’s mistakes.
“I think he broke through after the fumble, and when he came back and recovered. That’s hard for a new quarterback to come back after a turnover. When he came back, he proved to everybody he could persevere.”
Petty had some flashes of absolute brilliance in this game as well. There was a 44-yard pass on a go route to Tevin Reese that was placed right in his hands for a touchdown. Petty was worried that he led Reese too far to the middle of the field.
“Bryce is just critical of himself,” Reese said. “That was a perfect pass that he threw in that situation.”
Coach Briles kept Petty out on the field into the third quarter before pulling him late. He finished 18-23 with 290 yards passing and two touchdowns.
“He’s exactly how he’s been in practice,” Coach Briles said. “He was efficient. First round out of the box, he did exactly what we needed him to do, and that’s make plays when we needed plays.”
Petty was optimistic about the team during the post-game press conference.
“This was exactly what we needed to get the first game jitters out,” Petty said. “Especially me. We’ve got plenty of depth, it’s going to be a fun season.”
As with any first year starter, there will be an adjustment period. Bryce Petty has shown that he has comparable talent to any quarterback to play for Baylor, including the last two. Coach Briles was asked if this is what he expected from Petty.
“Oh, yes sir. He’s done exactly what he was planned to do, what it was worked out for him to do.”
Reese agreed with Coach Briles.
“Bryce came out here and played exactly how we wanted him to play. He’s a great quarterback. We expect 600 yards passing, anything we expect from Bryce.”
Coach Briles did not hold back about Bryce at Big 12 media day.
“A reasonable expectation for Bryce is to break every Baylor record record there is offensively, which is what we expect him to do and what he plans to do.”
After a game of action, not much seems to have changed.
Baylor football returns against Buffalo next week at 2:30 pm on September 7 at Floyd Casey Stadium.