Mike Ayers looks at the Mercer football team and sees one similar to his Wofford team: a young group that has been close throughout the season but hasn’t been able to get over the hump.
The Terriers and Bears face off in the final game of the regular season Saturday in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Wofford is 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the Southern Conference. Mercer is 6-5, 1-5 and has suffered four of those losses by seven points or fewer.
“They’re kind of like us. They’re young, but so are we. I think they’re executing better than us. We’re going to have to up our game to have a chance,” Ayers said. “We’ve got a young football team, and they’ve taken their lumps. We’ve got to try to be a sound team and eliminate the mistakes both offensively and defensively. If we do, we’ll have a chance. If we don’t, then we won’t have a chance because they’re just too good.”
Wofford had a chance to shake up the conference standings two weeks ago when it faced Chattanooga, but it lost 31-13 and then lost 31-14 to Furman last week.
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Still, Mercer head coach Bobby Lamb is aware of the challenge facing his team this week. He compared Wofford to The Citadel but with many more weapons and schemes. The Citadel beat Mercer 28-26 on Nov. 1.
“It will be a challenge. They’re Citadel on steroids,” Lamb said. “What I mean is, they’re more elaborate with their packages of plays and their packages of personnel, and they’re not just a traditional double-slot option like Citadel was. They’re a little more elaborate with what they do. They have added packages as the years have gone by, but they’re still the same disciplined Wofford team that likes to run the ball.”
Ayers and Lamb faced off for many years during Lamb’s time with the Furman program before taking over at Mercer.
“We have another challenge this week in playing Mercer,” Ayers said. “Bobby Lamb, I have known Bobby since he was a player -- a tremendous football mind, and he’s got them rolling there. I know the record is not conducive of the quality of the football team and the football played that those guys have. They’ve been in a lot of close games.”