Every week is a learning experience, something of a revelation for Mercer in this season of reinstatement.
How well a bunch of freshmen and redshirt freshmen would handle the college level and grow with no veteran players around was one issue.
And how many with a uniform would develop into players of impact was another. So far, so good on both counts.
The young Bears are 7-1 overall and 3-1 in Pioneer Football League play entering Saturdays game at Davidson, and one thing Mercer has been able to avoid -- especially once it was through with non-conference competition -- was too many injuries and the often-predictable problems with a lack of depth.
The injury bug has not absolutely killed us, Mercer head coach Bobby Lamb said. I keep knocking on wood.
Even when the Bears have been bitten by that bug, the sting has been minimal.
Mercer lost starting left tackle Brett Steverson for the season after three games to an ankle injury. Place-kicker Josh Shutter had the game-winning field goal against Reinhardt in the opener but has been out since midway through the second game with a groin injury.
Defensive end Cody Jones (ankle) will miss his third game this week.
Wide receiver JT Palmer was banged up for the second half against San Diego with a hip injury, a trip that also sidelined wideout Dalton Ponchillia (elbow), linebacker Tosin Aguebor (turf toe) and safety Mike Gray (concussion).
None missed a game, although there were some decreases in playing time that had no negative impact on the Bears.
Last week, running back Payton Usher left in the first quarter with a concussion and defensive end Kelly Brooks in the second quarter with a knee injury.
In every case, the Bears havent lost much with the replacement, and some cases have been more pressing than others.
Sam Arrington went from a little-used backup center to starter at left tackle for Steverson, dazzling Lamb with how well he has performed.
Mop up duty, and then all of a sudden, bam, Lamb said. We shift him out to tackle once Steverson gets hurt. He was our sixth best lineman at the time.
Its been pretty incredible. Hes 244 pounds, Steverson was 318. We lost close to 70 pounds at the left tackle, who is protecting the back side of your quarterback. He has done a remarkable job, because hes so strong and hes so technique-oriented.
Tyler Zielenske has had few hiccups in taking over for Shutter. Brooks is probable and will make the trip to Davidson this weekend, but Usher wont. That absence of the leading rusher would be a concern for most teams, but Lamb is more than confident in the trio of JeTarri Donald, Caleb Brown and Jabari Scruggs.
Donald is faster than Usher, and Brown is more of a power back who has the speed to reel off a big run. And Scruggs is a bit of a mixture of all three.
The bonus is having no need to change the game plan a bit.
As far as play calls go, absolutely no difference with Donald and Usher, Lamb said. Very good backs, very similar backs.
And odds are the result will be a familiar one.
Every time weve lost somebody, somebody has stepped up, Lamb said. Thats the great thing about this season.