After struggling during the first half of the season, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley admitted he was thinking too much about what NFL scouts were saying and that such pressure was impacting his play for the Bruins.
It comes as no surprise that Hundley has played his best football of the year in the past few weeks since dropping the concerns over his draft status, and slowly but surely UCLA has climbed back into College Football Playoff contention.
Hundley isn't the only big-time QB who made a mental change in the middle of the year, however. Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty admitted to CFB 24/7 that he was thinking too much about living up to last season's remarkable run and dwelling on his mistakes from earlier in the season.
"It really was the week of Oklahoma when things started changing and I stopped thinking so much. I've always thought as far as an athlete my Achilles' heel has been my own self. If I think too much, sometimes I hinder what I'm really capable of," said Petty on Monday. "The week of OU, I said forget all this, I'm going to go out and have fun and whatever happens, happens.
"It's eased my mind when I've played since and made a big difference between the first half and second half of the season. I think it will continue like that."
After a blowout win over Oklahoma State on Saturday in which he connected on two long touchdown throws in the Bears' first five plays, it's hard not to notice a positive change in Petty's play the past few outings. Following a disappointing loss to West Virginia in mid-October, he's bounced back with a three-game stretch of six touchdowns against just two interceptions while completing 66 percent of his passes.
While it's a far cry from his eye-popping numbers from 2013 -- 4,200 yards with a 32-3 touchdown/interception ratio -- the senior is starting to look much more like the player many thought would emerge as a possible first-round pick in 2015. The early ups and downs still weigh heavily on Petty when looking at 2014 overall, though, even as his team is making a strong run at the first-ever College Football Playoff.
"Individually, I think it would be really hard to say that I've accomplished everything I wanted to. I had high hopes for this season and it just hasn't worked out like that," Petty remarked. "At the same time, that's selfish thinking. We're in the running for a Big 12 championship, a repeat, and no one's ever done that before (at Baylor). So it's hard to sit here and sulk over personal goals and aspirations when your team is winning.
"I'd much rather win a Big 12 championship than a Heisman Trophy. I still stand by that even if I would love a little more production out of myself."
Few sequences showed how Petty and the Baylor offense have adjusted down the stretch quite like the first quarter of their game against Oklahoma State on Saturday night. In rainy conditions, the Bears went deep twice using their stable of of speedy receivers and were up 14-0 despite being on the field just 61 seconds. The Cowboys adjusted their coverages and threw a Tampa-2 look out to mix things up.
The late change wasn't what Baylor players were expecting and Petty threw an interception after his receiver broke off the route flatter than expected. No panic set in on the sideline. The offense simply adjusted to run the ball more and went on a remarkable 19-play, 79-yard drive that ate up over seven minutes of clock.
That's not exactly normal for a group that is used to scoring touchdowns in under two minutes. It worked, however, as the team scored to go up 21-7 in what would wind up as a runaway 49-28 win.
Nobody knows if such an impressive showing will do enough to allow Baylor to move up in Tuesday's College Football Playoff rankings, but Petty is confident that no matter what happens with the national title race, his team is still focused on the task at hand in the Big 12 and won't be chasing style points in their two remaining games this season.
"If you look at Florida State, they're barely winning games, but they're winning and staying in it. I think at some point, just winning is enough," he said. "A win is a win by any count. All we can do is control what we can control and that's going out there and executing on offense, making stops on defense and having sound special teams. The rest will take care of itself. If it doesn't end the way we want to, then we can at least say we gave it our all. At the end of the day, we went to Morgantown and didn't get it done. You can blame the voters or the committee all you want, but at the same time, we went up there and lost. If we do win out, I don't think it matters how we win."
Based on the improvement Petty and company have shown the past few weeks, it's quite possible the Bears will force the committee to make a tough decision on them being in or out of the final four.