Derek Carr was the Mountain West offensive player of the year in 2012 after he threw for a league-record 4,104 yards with 37 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
But that was not reason to celebrate, the senior quarterback said this week.
Turning on the film from last year makes me sick when I look at myself, said Carr, who struggled all season with an abdominal tear just above the groin.
Through two games this season, heading into Fridays home game against Boise State, Carr is off to a strong start that puts him on pace for a bigger 2013.
In a pair of wins, Carr has completed 74-of-104 passes (71.2 percent) for 661 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception.
I like how Im playing this year, he said.
There are a handful of reasons to believe Carrs senior season might be even better in his second season in coach Tim DeRuyters up-tempo, spread system. First, there is a better understanding of the offense and the increased knowledge coupled with the fast pace has earned him the right to call quite a few plays on his own. And theres the fact Carr is healthy he played all of last season with the abdominal tear.
It affected us gameplan-wise, we couldnt move the pocket like we wanted to at times, DeRuyter said. I think all those things add up to him being more efficient and more effective because we can move at a faster rate with him.
With his regained health, it allows Carr to play with a little less fear. He has five carries for 35 yards, including a 16-yarder on a fourth-and-3 that set up a third quarter touchdown pass in the Bulldogs 52-51 overtime win over Rutgers on Aug. 30.
Its funny to say from the quarterback position, but Im trying to play more physical, Carr said. In the pocket, I try and be better against pressure.
Carr is also playing for more than a conference championship or a better slot in the NFL Draft. His first-born son, Dallas, spent the first three weeks of his life in the hospital in August with an intestinal issue that required two surgeries.
Boise State coach Chris Petersen, whom Carr said is one of the best coaches about ever, can relate his son Sam, battled a brain tumor when he was just a 1 year old. Petersen said he is looking forward to speaking with Carr on Friday prior to the game, but is not necessarily excited to face him on the field.
Hes been playing for a long time I cannot believe hes still there, Petersen said. He has a great command of what theyre doing and he can throw. Hes got really good arm talent.
Hes a heck of a player, a good guy.
Petersen recruited Carr in high school, though he opted to follow in his brother Davids footsteps to Fresno State which saw a rivalry created when the Broncos went into Bulldog Stadium in 2001 and upset the then-No. 8 Bulldogs, 35-30, with David Carr then a senior.
Twelve years later, Derek Carr is a senior, and again the Bulldogs are ranked, No. 25 in the latest USA Today coaches poll. A Boise State flag that served as a motivator, placed in Dereks house by his brother, was taken down this summer I felt it was just a distraction to the team, he said.
Still, from his family to the community, Carr knows Friday could be his last shot to beat Boise State, though the two teams could end up in the Mountain West championship game in December.
I think they want to beat (Boise State) as bad as I do, Carr said. Thats how it always is.