Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Game #8 - Mercer

In the Catamounts' eighth game of the 2020-21 season and their fifth conference game, the Cats travel to Macon, Ga to face the Mercer Bears

Western will meet the Bears for just the seventh time since Mercer joined the Southern Conference in 2014. The Bears are coming off a 41-14 loss at VMI.  This game will be this week's Ingles SoCon Game of the Week

Game #8 - The Mercer Bears

When: Saturday, March 20 at  4 pm
Where: Five Star Stadium, Macon, GA
Radio: Catamount Sports Network
-announcers: Gary Ayers, PxP, Daniel Hooker Analyst
TV/video: ESPN+/Nexstar 
-announcers: PxP - Pete Yanity, Analyst - Jared Singleton 
- Nexstar affiliates are: ECBD (Charleston), WGHP Greensboro/High Point), WJHL (Johnson City), WWCW (Lynchburg/Roanoke) and WYCW (Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville).  WMYT in Charlotte, NC, will carry the entire football package. Although not a Nexstar station, WMUB (Macon), Mercer University Broadcasting, will also air select contests.
Mercer Fan Message Board MU Bear Down

Game Notes:  Western Carolina    -    Mercer

The Series: In only the 7th meeting between the two teams, the Cats own a 2-4 record overall against the Bears, having dropped the last four games played. The Cats have a 1-2 record in games played in Macon.

Last Season's Game vs. Mercer (Aug. 31, 2019) - Big Plays, Missed Opportunities Doom WCU in 49-27 Loss - Cullowhee, N.C. - Big plays turned in by Mercer and missed opportunities by the Catamounts including a pair of turnovers spoiled an otherwise festive afternoon at E.J. Whitmire Stadium / Bob Waters Field as the Bears handed Western Carolina a 49-27 loss in both the 2019 season and Southern Conference opener.

This Season's Record (Mercer):  1-5 overall, 1-2 SoCon,  1-1 home, 0-4 away
Last Season's Record (Mercer):  4-8 overall, 3-5 SoCon,  2-4 home, 2-4 away,   (SoCon wins: WCU, VMI, Samford)

Head Coach: Drew Cronic was named the 20th head football coach in Mercer University history on December 10, 2019. He spent the previous two seasons as the head coach at Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, N.C. A native of Sharpsburg, Ga., Cronic is considered one of the more innovative offensive minds across all levels of college football. 

Drew Cronic's record against WCU:  0-0 (first game)
Mark Speir's record against Mercer:  2-4

Offensive Formation: .Multiple (Spread/Wing)
- 2019 offense:  26.9 ppg. (61th in FCS)
Defensive Formation: Multiple
- 2019 defense:  35.4 ppg. (106th in FCS)
Starters Returning/Lost: 12 /  10
Offensive starters - Returning/Lost: 6 / 5
Defensive starters - Returning/Lost: 6 / 5

In the spring preseason, the Bears were picked to finish in sixth place in both the media and coaches poll. Two members of the Mercer football team were also recognized by the Phil Steele Magazine by being named to the Preseason All-Southern Conference Team. Senior cornerback Harrison Poole, and sophomore kicker Caleb Dowden all earned third-team honors.

Last season's weakness for the Bears, like for the Cats, was on the defensive side of the ball. Mercer is coming off a 2019 season in which the Bears went 4-8, scoring 323 points on offense (26.9 points per game — pretty good!) but allowing 425 points (35.4 ppg — not good!).  We don't know the status of quarterback Robert Riddle who had a season-ending injury in game 7 last season. If Riddle is able to return, that would give the Bears 7 returning starters.

Of course, we know that Mercer replaced head coach Bobby Lamb with Drew Cronic who had two impressive seasons at Lenoir-Rhyne. Cronic went 25-3 in two years at Lenoir-Rhyne. So, Mercer just hired a guy with a 47-6 career record, that took over a Lenoir-Rhyne squad that went 3-8 the year before he was hired, then went 12-2 and 13-1 in two years. 

Mercer has multiple options who are threats on the receiving front. In only his second game as a Bear, Drake Starks went 75 yards for a touchdown. Not to be outdone, redshirt freshman Ty James had two receptions, one 40-yarder, and a 33-yard touchdown. The touchdown was James’ first of his career. Ethan Dirrim had a touchdown reception and 22-yards receiving against The Citadel. Dirrim is the third leading receiver on the team. Deondre Johnson leads the team in receptions (14) and yards (141) this season. 

The Bears are #6 in scoring, averaging 17.7 points per game (ppg) and 7th in scoring defense, giving up29.3 ppg. The Bears come in 7th in rushing with 138 yards per game (3.6 avg. per rush) and 8th in pass offense gaining 134.5 yards per game (6.4 avg.).  

2020-21 Mercer Statistics  (6 games):
Rushing Offense: 958 yards
Yards per game: 138.2
Yards per rush: 3.6 yards
Rushing 1st downs: 47
TDs rushing: 5
Passing Offense: 807 yards or 134.5 yards per game
Avg. per pass: 6.4 yards
Passing 1st downs: 35
Passing: Att-Comp-Int: 126-70-5
TDs Passing: 8
Total Offense: 1636 yards or 272.7 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost: 13-8
3d Down Conversions: 35 of 82  (42.7%)
4th Down Conversions: 3 of 8  (37.5%)
Field goal attempts: 2 of 4
On-side kicks: 0-0
Red Zone Scores: 9 of 14
Red Zone Touchdowns: 8 of 14
PAT-Attempts:16 of 16

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