The off week came at the perfect time for the Mercer Bears.
The Bears are banged up after their 2-1 start, including Saturday’s 29-22 loss at Tennessee Tech. And the week off gives Mercer two weeks to prepare for Wofford in its Southern Conference opener.
“You can’t ever predict how you are going to be physically going into the open date,” Mercer head coach Bobby Lamb said. “No. 1, it comes at a good time for us because of all of our injuries, and No. 2, it comes at a good time for us because we’re playing Wofford, which is a very difficult offense to defend.
“We came out of practice, and our coaches were like, ‘I’m glad this isn’t Tuesday of game week.’ That tells you the extra time that is needed against them.”
Lamb’s team could need that time to help get players ready for the game against Wofford. Tight end Robert Brown (stress reactions in foot) is questionable, while Brandon Coney (stress fractures in legs) didn’t make the trip to Tennessee Tech. Wide receiver Chandler Curtis and cornerback Alex Avant have been battling a high ankle sprain and a hamtsring injury, respectively. Lamb said Curtis will try to practice this week, while Avant will rest this week.
Defensive linemen Marvin Davis (concussion) and Blake Jones (mononucleosis) should be back, while running backs Alex Lakes and Tee Mitchell both suffered bruised ribs last week, and Payton Usher suffered a broken hand. Lamb said all three backs should be able to play against Wofford.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who are beat up, so this week is good for us,” Lamb said. “It’s good to have some time to try to get some guys healed up.”
Saturday was a tough loss in more ways than one as the Bears outplayed the Eagles throughout the contest but struggled in the red zone to finish off drives. After trailing 21-6, the Bears rallied to take the lead only to see the Eagles score late to pull out the win.
Mercer ran 87 plays and gained 415 yards, while Tennessee Tech ran 56 plays and gained 357 yards. The Bears had no turnovers and only two penalties.
“It comes down to red-zone offense, having to kick too many field goals, and it comes down to explosion plays. They had about five big-time explosion plays, and we didn’t have any down the field that we needed to make,” Lamb said. “It was a game of missed opportunities. We played a clean game, no turnovers and only two penalties. Normally you win those games, and we just didn’t get it done.”