The Mercer defense had two weeks to prepare for Wofford’s option offense before last week’s game.
So after such a physically and mentally draining test, it would make sense that it would be difficult to turn around and get ready for a pass-first Western Carolina offense in just one week.
The Bears (2-2 overall, 0-1 Southern Conference) travel to Cullowhee, North Carolina, on Saturday to face the Catamounts (2-2, 0-1). Mercer is third in the conference with 243.8 passing yards per game, while Western Carolina is fourth with 221.5.
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“It’s difficult, but on the other hand, it’s refreshing,” Mercer head coach Bobby Lamb said. “Our defensive coaches came out of their meeting the other day, and I said, ‘Man, y’all are out of here early.’ They said, ‘It’s a lot easier to plan for these guys.’
“Physically, from a formation standpoint, it’s much easier than Wofford, and from a scheme standpoint, it’s much easier to defend. But on the flip side, they have great athletes and a great scheme, and it’s tough to defend because you get a lot of one-on-one matchups. ”
Western Carolina head coach Mark Speir, likewise, said his team has a tough task awaiting it in Saturday’s game. Mercer leads the conference in scoring offense (35.0 points per game) and total offense (485.0 yards per game).
John Russ is third in the conference with 236 passing yards per game, while Tee Mitchell is second with 103 rushing yards per game, second only to Western Carolina’s Detrez Newsome (119.8 yards)
“Offensively, Coach Lamb does a great job, as good as anybody, of finding formations that he can outflank you and put you in a bind,” Speir said. “He searches around until he can find that formation that he likes and get you outflanked, and their staff does a great job of being balanced, run to pass. He’s got really good skill people on offense and a quarterback who is just a really good manager. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He can throw the ball; he runs good enough. They’ve got some really good running backs.
“Offensively, they do a really good job of trying to control the clock, control the line of scrimmage between the runs, and they do a really good job of play-action off the runs that they do.”