- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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WACO, Texas -- When you’re a perfectionist like Bryce Petty, the nitpicking comes easier than you’d think.
For all the fantastic things he did in his junior year, for all the records his offense broke, the Baylor quarterback doesn’t struggle to come up with things he wants to fix. There’s always room for better.
Good luck finding too many faults in Petty’s junior season. Well, OK, there is one obvious issue that should be addressed: The goal-line stumble.
You know, the one at Oklahoma State, when Petty broke free for an easy 26-yard touchdown run, then tripped near the 10 and fell down face-first short of the goal line.
For this, Petty offers no excuses. He goofed up. His teammates gave him plenty of grief for that one.
“When something like that happens, you have to embrace it,” he said. “If you let it get to you, it’s gonna kill you. It was funny. It was just one of those things that probably will be with my career the whole time.
“My mind just wants to go faster than my legs want to go.”
Fair enough. Petty can at least laugh about that one now. He’s serious when it comes to the other aspect of his game he can improve.
What’s on the to-do list of the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year? First up: Getting more comfortable in the pocket, a natural flaw for first-year starters.
“For me, everything is in the pocket. I want to hone in on being able to move and jive and not look to run too much,” he said. “I think I put my eyes down early a couple times last year, so I really want to try to work within the pocket and let things happen for me and not try to force anything.”
The stat line from Petty’s first year at the helm -- 4,200 passing yards, 32 touchdowns, three interceptions, 14 rushing scores -- really can’t get much better, can it? Petty spent three years preparing for his opportunity and took advantage in a big way last fall.
He says the hunger that built up over his years on the bench isn’t gone. He came back to win a national title. He came back to be the best in the game.
“Nothing has changed. I’ve still got to go out and prove that I am the starter and that there’s a reason why I’m the starter,” Petty said. “My mentality hasn’t changed and it shouldn’t change. You’ve got to want to be the best; no one else will do it for you.”
As a 13-game starter, Petty has the experience, and more confidence. But he was always pretty confident. Coach Art Briles wants to see improvements in those more intangible areas this year.
“Poise, leadership, perfection, guttiness, fearlessness, determination,” Briles said, “and unwillingness to accept anything but the best that he can do to lead our football team on a daily basis.”
Even with speedster Tevin Reese off to the NFL, the Bears are as loaded as any program in the Big 12 -- and maybe the country -- at wide receiver. Antwan Goodley and Levi Norwood will continue to make Petty’s life easier, and Baylor’s quarterback can’t wait to put freshmen Davion Hall, K.D. Cannon, Ishmael Zamora and Chris Platt to the test this summer.
“They’re more new weapons I get to play with,” Petty said. “I just have to trust them and let this offense work.”
As he took the field for his first spring practice Friday, that’s all Petty had on his mind. Not stats or Heismans or the kind of singular achievements he’s capable of reaching in 2014.
No, the leader of the highest-scoring offense in college football just wants one thing: More.
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