Second road game in two weeks? Sure.
Starting running back out? No problem.
New running back making his first start? Piece of cake.
Starting defensive end still hobbled from a knee injury? Big deal.
They were among the potential obstacles in front of Mercer for its game last week at Davidson, a team desperate to come up with a win, any win. And beating one of the hottest teams in the conference would have done wonders for the home team.
But none of the concerns ended up slowing the Bears down at all in their 51-26 win over the Wildcats.
Certainly JeTarii Donalds starting debut couldnt have gone much better, with 202 yards on 24 carries through Davidsons defense.
Donald got the start while Payton Usher remained home to continue recovering from a concussion suffered against Campbell. Donalds overall game wasnt much of a surprise -- he took over for Usher against Campbell and ran 13 times for 132 yards and a touchdown as the Bears finished that game with 318 yards rushing.
Ive been telling people all year long that theres not a whole lot of difference between JeTarii Donald and Payton Usher, Mercer head coach Bobby Lamb said. Paytons probably a little shiftier and JeTarii has more straight-ahead speed.
He showed it again Saturday.
Saturday showcased some old-school football for the Bears, who ran for 397 yards in a dominating ground performance.
The most impressive number of the day came with that effort: Mercer ran the ball 51 times and had only 11 negative yards. And 9 of them went to team rushing because of a bad snap.
After that, quarterback John Russ had a 2-yard loss to go against the 125 he gained.
Thats a pretty good number, Lamb said. Youre doing something right up front when you do that.
And our receivers have blocked exceptionally well downfield. So when we do spring one, its a credit to the receivers because they do make key blocks. We ran a little swing pass to JeTarii and the two receivers were crackback-blocking on the linebacker and the safety. Josh Jones and JoJo Marshall made two incredible blocks.
The result was a 51-yard touchdown play early in the fourth quarter.
If they dont make those blocks, we probably get about a 15-yard gain, Lamb said. They make the blocks, and its a touchdown.
Donald, as well as Caleb Brown, got a few more carries than expected, thanks to an early knee injury to Jabari Scruggs on a kickoff. Brown ran 11 times for 81 yards.
Now, does Lamb have a running back quarterback controversy to deal with?
Its always good to have a running back controversy, Lamb said. Weve got enough footballs to go around in that department.
Usher will be back this week against Jacksonville, while Scruggs is day-to-day. Donald might miss a little practice after tweaking his ankle a little bit Saturday.
Caleb Brown gave us a big lift in there, Lamb said, noting the depth at the position. Payton will be full go this week. We should be in pretty good shape.