Bobby Lamb isn’t putting much stock into Auburn’s offensive struggles last week against Clemson. Mercer’s head coach is also well aware how good Auburn’s defense is.
That’s what faces the Bears as they travel to Auburn on Saturday for their first game against an SEC program. Mercer’s first game against an FBS program came last year in a 35-10 loss to Georgia Tech.
“It’s a great opportunity for us. Just like I told our team on Sunday, we’re going to talk about Mercer; we’re going to talk about making ourselves better this week,” Lamb said. “Obviously, we’ve got a tall challenge of going down to The Plains and playing Auburn, but think our guys are eager to do that. We learned some lessons from last year from the Georgia Tech game, and we’ve got another opportunity, going to Auburn.”
Auburn lost 14-6 to defending national champion Clemson last week. Auburn struggled to just 117 yards and two field goals, and its offensive line allowed 11 sacks.
But Auburn’s defense kept the team in the game, holding Clemson to 281 yards and two touchdown drives — one to end the first half and one to start the second half.
“Any time you hold Clemson to 14 points, you’re doing something, so it’ll be a tremendous challenge for our offense against their defense,” Lamb said. “I know everybody says their offense is struggling, but Clemson’s defense is awful good, so they’ve got a really good football team, and if they put it all together, they’ll be one of the top teams in the SEC.”
Conner Krieger, Mercer’s starting center, is out after suffering an injury against Wofford. Sophomore Dawson Ellis will start at center Saturday against Auburn’s strong defensive line.
Mercer is averaging 37.5 points and 335.5 yards per game and has scored 10 touchdowns in its 1-1 start, and the Bears have scored on all 11 of their red-zone trips, including nine touchdowns.
But the Bears are minus-two in turnover margin, losing a fumble and throwing four interceptions.
“When I look at them, you can see on the film, and in all three phases, you can tell they’re extremely well-coached,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said. “They do what they do well, and they play hard. Our message to our team is this is really about us. We need to play a good overall game, and our team is committed to that.”
Mercer at Auburn
4 p.m., Saturday
SEC Network Alternate