Bryce Petty might like his chances of playing in Baylor's game against Northwestern State on Saturday, but his head coach isn't nearly as optimistic.
Baylor coach Art Briles said the injured star quarterback would have to make "pretty dramatic" improvement to play, a strong suggestion that backup Seth Russell could be primed to make the first start of his career. Petty is dealing with two cracked bones in his back.
"We'll see how it comes around in the next day or two, but it's going to have to be pretty dramatic," Briles said, according to The Waco Tribune-Herald.
Petty's limited playing time didn't slow down the Bears last week in a 45-0 thumping of SMU, and it's unlikely his absence would make a difference on the scoreboard this week. Upcoming road trips to Buffalo and Iowa State don't appear especially daunting, either. But on Oct. 4, when the Bears play at Texas, Briles' team will absolutely need a healthy and effective Petty.
While Baylor's schedule might allow the team to be cautious in bringing the star quarterback back, his Heisman Trophy candidacy couldn't be sustained by much of an absence. Statistically speaking, he's already behind the pace after playing only a half against the Mustangs (13 of 23, 161 yards, two TDs). Those are fine numbers from strictly a football standpoint, but they don't do much for a Heisman resume. Missing a full game or two would put the Petty-Heisman onus as much on the team -- to stay unbeaten and support his candidacy through team success -- as on Petty himself.
And where Baylor's team success is concerned, Briles is smart to take every possible precaution at this point in the season.