By Rayne Brown
One thing junior starting quarterback Bryce Petty wants to make sure of is that this Baylor team does not get comfortable after amassing two blowout victories against nonconference opponents this season.
“You can’t get complacent,” Petty said. “You can’t think you’ve arrived. We still have our things to work on and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Petty and the team used the bye week to do just that, work out the kinks, perfect their game and recuperate their bodies. Now, Baylor turns its focus to ULM.
“It’s great for our guys,” Petty said. “You know guys that are bandaged up or injured here and there. It’s nothing serious, but I think it’s a chance for us to regroup as a team and get back right.”
For Petty, individual growth is just as important as team growth. Although the first two games of the season were victories, Petty missed some throws and now the quarterback wants to work on perfecting his deep ball.
“You just have to take a deep breath and act like there’s no one else out there,” Petty said.
While Petty may be focused on perfecting his deep ball, head coach Art Briles isn’t interested in rushing him into anything.
“He’s got to ease his way into it,” Briles said. “He feels comfortable. He feels confident. You know the rest. It’ll take over. It’ll be osmosis. It’ll work.”
It seems to be working already. According to heismanpundit.com’s Heisman predictions, Petty is tied for ninth place with South Carolina junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. Being considered as a Heisman contender this early in the season is an obvious honor, but Petty pays these predictions no mind and gives his teammates all the credit.
“It’s fun to see your name on that type of thing, but really it just goes back to this team,” Petty said. It’s all pointed back to them. If you go back and look at film, I really haven’t done anything. It’s been Tevin [Reese]. It’s been A.G. [Antwan Goodley]. It’s been those guys out front. It’s been Lache [Seastrunk]. You know I think the Heisman is a great deal, but it’s really a team effort to get you there.”
Petty’s teammates have seen growth from Petty as well.
“Bryce has been waiting in the wings and he’s finally proving everything he wanted to prove,” senior receiver Tevin Reese said. “Bryce is way ahead of what we thought he would be, and we’re just loving it.”
Another great deal for Petty is the fans. While they don’t play an active role on the field, they play an active role in keeping the team’s morale and energy up.
“We love them,” Petty said. “Fans are a big part. That’s a disadvantage visitors have so that’s why we love being home. When SMU dropped the ball, Coach got Wofford in here so we could have that home crowd. That’s a big deal for us.”
Whether it takes perfecting his long ball, counting on his teammates and the fans, or sticking to the game plan of the first two games, Petty has his eye on one goal this season.
“Really, just a Big 12 championship, that’s what I want to do,” Petty said. “You know whatever else comes with that, more power to it, but if I can get that ring at the end of the year, that would be good,” he said.
With the way the first two games have gone, winning a Big 12 title is realistic for this team.
“Our guys have done an unbelievable job,” Briles said.
A Big 12 championship would be a great way to commemorate Baylor’s last season in Floyd Casey and Petty is determined to close out “The Case” in memorable fashion.
“There’s been a lot of tradition, a lot of history in Floyd Casey and so it’s an honor for me to be the one to end it,” Petty said. “Especially with all the big-time quarterbacks that came through there. As a team, we really want to end it out right.”
Petty is vocal about being a team player. He’s not worried about the large-scale fame a good season can bring him.
When asked questions about such things, he always brings it back to the team.
“We know that we’re a good team,” Petty said. “We know that we’re a top five team and you know, you can’t worry about that kind of stuff,” he said.
What matters to Petty is the team, the fans and leaving it all on the field at Floyd Casey Stadium in an effort to win Baylor’s first Big 12 Conference championship.