Bears prepare for conference play against #10 Wofford

A group of spirited students, some representing the organization Mercer Maniacs, cheer on a Mercer football game.

Image: Mercer Marketing and Communications

A group of spirited students, some representing the organization Mercer Maniacs, cheer on a Mercer football game.

Avery Braxton, Staff Writer

The Bears open conference play this week against Wofford after a dominant performance in their season opening win against Jacksonville, 48-7.

Bears fans can expect a much stiffer contest on Saturday. Wofford ranks 10th in the nation among mid-major schools and was picked as the SoCon preseason favorite. Mercer has yet to beat Wofford since the Bears have joined the Southern Conference, although the last two contests have been close. Head Coach Bobby Lamb said the game will come down to who can make the most decisive plays.

“When you look at each game, they’ve made the one more play that counts to win the game. So that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to make that one more play or two more plays to give ourselves the advantage,” he said.

The Bears defense got a preview of the offense they will face Saturday in last week’s contest. Jacksonville ran a similar version to Wofford’s vaunted triple option. Senior linebacker Lee Bennett and the defense knows what to expect.

“Wofford’s going to do what they’re going to do regardless of what team they go against because they feel like they’re good at what they do,” Bennett said. “We’re just going to attack the fundamentals and just beat them at their own game which is toughness.”

Lamb said he thinks the depth his team has, especially on offense, could be a factor in getting a win this week. Nine players caught a pass for Mercer last week and the receiving core will see senior receiver Avery Ward back in the lineup after tweaking his ankle. As many as five tailbacks could see action this week, led by the tandem Tee Mitchell and Alex Lakes.

Mitchell returns to the team after a year away and said he feels good. He was the Bears leading rusher in 2015 with 946 yards on the ground.

“It takes time to get into the flow as a running back. Right now I’m trying to figure out how to get myself prepared to come in and make an immediate impact and not break down that flow of the game,” Mitchell said.

Saturday’s game will be at home in Five Star Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.