One injured starter is healthy again and will travel, while another starter is out and will stay home.
Mercer is a banged up for its third road trip of the season, but its last trip to North Carolina went pretty well, and the Bears hope to repeat that success Saturday afternoon when they visit Davidson in Pioneer Football League action.
Place-kicker Josh Shutter (groin) is back and will make the trip while running back Payton Usher wont as he continues to progress from a concussion suffered in the first quarter of last weeks game at Campbell.
Ushers injury didnt have an impact in Campbells second-half comeback to make the game competitive before Mercer held on 38-31, and his absence might not have an impact this time around. Mercer is deep at running back with JeTarii Donald, Caleb Brown and Jabari Scruggs behind quarterback John Russ, whos enough of a running threat himself. Russ had cracked the 100-yard rushing mark in two of his past three games, including 132 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries last week.
Mercer is 7-1 overall and 3-1 in the Pioneer League, having clinched a winning season with the win at Campbell. Davidson is 0-8 overall and 0-5 in conference play.
Paul Nichols is trying to return Davidson to the success he knew as a player. The first-year head coach was the starting quarterback when the Wildcats went undefeated in 2000, and he took over after Tripp Merritt was fired with two games left last season.
Nichols, a Dunwoody native who also has worked at llinois, Toledo and Marshall, has his work cut out for him. His alma mater hasnt had a winning season overall or in conference since 2007 when it went 6-4 and 4-3. The Wildcats were 2-9 and 2-6 last year.
Theyre well-coached, Mercer head coach Bobby Lamb said. Hes a Davidson grad, and hes got a lot invested into the program.
Lamb said the Wildcats are a little better than their numbers show.
They are very sound in what they do on defense, he said. On offense, theyre throwing the ball all over the yard.
Running the ball isnt a strength, but four-year starting quarterback Jonathan Carkhuff is. He is seventh in the Pioneer League in passing yards and eighth in efficiency, with nine touchdowns to only four interceptions.
Hes got a lot of snaps under his belt, Lamb said. Hes a better thrower, a way better thrower.
Lamb was comparing him to Campbells Brian Hudson, who spearheaded the Camels comeback last week through the air although his strength is as a runner.
The kid at Campbell, he could run it, Lamb said. A lot of the stuff he did in the second have was off of scrambles and different things like that. Hes a terrific athlete. (Carkhuff) is a better just drop-back pocket passer. Weve got to get to him and get him off the mark and let him scramble a little.