Mercer Cluster

“1-0” is the mantra for Bears football from here on out

Avery Braxton

Avery Braxton, Staff Writer

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The Mercer Bears’ mantra since losing to East Tennessee State University four weeks ago has been “1-0,” meaning win each week without thinking of any other game. The Bears (4-3) have gone 1-0 three times in a row since then, winning three straight after a 30-10 win over Chattanooga last week.

“Coming home from that (ETSU) trip, everybody was disappointed. We were sitting at 1-3 not feeling very good about it, but I really think that next day at practice at our team meeting with our players really the senior leadership kicked in,” said Head Coach Bobby Lamb. “We kind of turned the page.”

Since that meeting, the Bears have won three straight including a win over last year’s conference champion, The Citadel. The offense averaged 34.3 points and 400 yards during the win streak and complimented a defense that has played well all year only allowing 17.6 points per game and leading the conference in turnovers forced.

  

One of the biggest points of emphasis since the ETSU loss has been on focus. Coaches and players have made it obvious that they are not looking ahead or behind during any game week. The focus is the task at hand.

“The key is, after the game, just forget about it,” linebacker Will Coneway said. “No matter how good or how bad you did in the game you have to forget about it and look to the next opponent, and like coach says, ‘We have to just win each week and go 1-0.’”

“You can never get too high, and you can never get too low,” said quarterback Kaelan Riley. “We were pretty low after the loss to Wofford and the loss to Auburn and the loss to ETSU. That was tough, but we had to come back, we had to bounce back and we have to do the same thing in this situation. We can’t get too high.”

Now Lamb and the Bears turn their sights to Furman University, a team with a four game win streak of their own and a high-powered offense averaging 36 points per game. The Paladins have scored 40 points or more four weeks in a row, a Furman record. Still, Coneway said the defense relishes the chance to step up.

“It’s just a great challenge. It’s always good to have a challenge like that and it’s something we look forward to, it’s something that gives us a little more motivation to come out and play well and put that extra preparation in during the week so we can do well on Saturday,” Coneway said.

Lamb, of course, will be heading into familiar territory at Paladin Stadium where he has history as both a player and a coach. He will be calling plays across from his childhood friend, former teammate, fellow Furman assistant coach and now Furman Head Coach, Clay Hendrix.

Some of the emotion of traveling to Greenville, South Carolina has waned for Lamb, but the newfound opposition in Hendrix gives the SoCon battle for I-75 a new fire.

Being Furman graduates, Clay [Hendrix] and I and our relationship…growing up [with him] makes him want to beat me and me want to beat him. It’s probably people making a lot to do about nothing,” said Lamb. “We’ll shake hands after the game, and we’ll be friends again. … It’s big for me and big for my family, but at the end of the day, we’re going [to Greenville] for one reason and one reason only: to come back with a win.”

A win on Saturday would be Mercer’s fourth in a row, a feat they haven’t accomplished since their return to football in 2013. It would also put Mercer at 4-2 in conference play, a crucial win before facing FCS ranked opponents in Samford and Western Carolina.

Kick-off for Saturday’s game is 1:30 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN3 and 7 Communications or heard on the Mercer Sports Network.

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“1-0” is the mantra for Bears football from here on out