For the first nine weeks of his college football career, Shawn Petty walked around the Maryland campus as an anonymous freshmen. Nobody ever recognizes a linebacker on the scout team.
Funny what happens when you become the starting quarterback.
Petty has become instantaneously recognizable, drawing much more attention not only from media, opposing defenses and his teammates but also from students on campus. Petty has tried to take his new role in stride, especially with precious time ticking down on the season.
He has only had his nose in the offensive playbook for a couple of weeks and is preparing to start his second game Saturday -- at Clemson, where the Tigers have won 11 straight games.
"I have to pick up the offense and then worry about everything else later," Petty said in an interview with ESPN.com this week. "It is a tragedy how I came to be in this spot, but I have to take it as a positive and do the best I can and take advantage of the opportunity."
So now that he has his first start under his belt, what is the No. 1 takeaway from his performance?
"Take care of the football," said Petty, who had an interception and two fumbles, losing one. "I just feel like I can go out there and do the things that need to be done to win the game, but I have to stay consistent for all 60 minutes of the game."
What should help Petty going into this week is the way he played in the second half of a 33-13 loss to Georgia Tech last week. Petty was jittery to start the game, as can be expected, and it took him a while to adjust to the speed and tempo. He started the game 1-of-6 for 1 yard and he lost fumble.
But he found a groove in the second half, going 8-of-12 for 114 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 56 yards before losing 32 of them to four sacks and other tackles behind the line.
"It’s a confidence booster because I played better," Petty said. "The game slowed down for me, and I plan on going into the game Saturday playing how I’m supposed to play, and getting better from that Georgia Tech game."
Coach Randy Edsall talked this week about trying to tailor the game plan to what Petty does well. But Clemson is going to be a far bigger challenge because its defensive players are extremely athletic and play with great speed.
"We know how much we can give him and how much we can go into the game with, and that's what we'll do, and I think he'll play better having a game under his belt," Edsall said. "Everybody on offense just has to step up and do their part and try to make his job that much easier."