Mercer running game searching for its rhythm

Mercer running back CJ Leggett (7) leads the Bears in rushing with 292 yards on 63 carries
Mercer running back CJ Leggett (7) leads the Bears in rushing with 292 yards on 63 carries

The Mercer running game really hasn’t gotten going this season, but the Bears showed last week against VMI what their running game can look like when it does.

After rushing for just 54 yards on 15 carries in the first half, the Bears made some adjustments at halftime and got rolling on the ground. In the final two quarters, Mercer rushed for 203 yards on 36 carries.

Mercer won the game easily to snap a three-game losing streak and heads to The Citadel on Saturday.

“Every game is different. We played a 3-4 defense last week,” Mercer head coach Bobby Lamb said of the halftime adjustments. “This week, we will be playing a 4-3, 4-2-5. We have only played one four-down lineman team this year, and that would be Auburn. So it is a little bit different for us. We will certainly narrow it down because The Citadel does an outstanding job of keeping the ball away from you.”

The Bears have averaged 158 rushing yards per game and 3.9 yards per carry in their 2-3 start. CJ Leggett leads the team in rushing in his first season with the Bears with 292 yards on 63 carries. He is averaging 4.6 yards per carry and 58.4 yards per game.

Tee Mitchell, who missed last season because of a suspension, is averaging 39.2 yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry with 196 yards. Alex Lakes, who is the program’s all-time leading rusher and is tied with John Russ for the program’s career rushing touchdown record, has 127 yards on 28 carries.

“It is new. It is different. We are all close. Our lockers are all close,” Mitchell said of the relationships between the running backs. “On the field, this is all of our first times sharing rotation, so it is new to all of us. We have to find our niche and find our way to impact the game and make plays with fewer touches. So as the season progresses, I think you will see us doing a better job of that.

“We do a great job of staying supportive to each other throughout the game so we will see how it goes.”

Mercer at The Citadel

2 p.m., Saturday