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Week 2 Opponent Preview: Mercer Bears

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In the Yellow Jackets home opener, they take on in-state opponent Mercer for the first time in 78 years.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Boston College Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s Gone? Who’s Back? Who’s New? (link)

Season So Far

Week 1 featured a tough matchup for Mercer, as they took on a ranked FCS opponent, #15 The Citadel. Mercer was down big early, trailing by as much as 21-3, but they came back to take the lead before The Citadel kicked a game-winning field goal with just two minutes left. Quarterback John Russ looked solid for the Bears, putting up 172 yards through the air and 74 yards on the ground, with a pair of rushing touchdowns. On defense, linebacker Tyler Ward posted nine tackles, five of them solo and two of them for a loss. Last season Mercer led the FCS with the fewest penalties, but committed ten against The Citadel for over 100 yards, a mark they will look to improve on against the Jackets.

Matchup

No matter how good of a season Mercer has this year, they are still an FCS opponent and a must win game for the Jackets. They were picked just fourth in their conference after finishing sixth last season. On top of this, Mercer is essentially in just their fourth season after dropping the football program during WWII. The program was not reinstated again until 2013. No disrespect intended, but there is no reason the Jackets should not overwhelm the Bears on Saturday and frankly, it will be a major red flag if they do not.

Last season Mercer was pretty average offensively and defensively, ranking 38th (20th rushing, 64th passing) in the FCS in total offense and 60th in the FCS in total defense (64th rushing, 59th passing). Due to the lack of turnover this season, Mercer will be expecting improvement on both sides of the ball.

Despite the rarity of the triple option offense in college football, Mercer will be seeing it for the second time this season after facing The Citadel last week, who also employ the triple option.

Other Notes

  • Georgia Tech starting BB Dedrick Mills will be suspended for the game (along with BB Kirvonte Benson) for a violation of team rules.
  • 396-0: Combined score of the Jackets last ten meetings with Mercer.
  • The forecast for Saturday calls for clear skies with a high of 92 degrees.

Prediction

Jackets roll early and Mercer is completely overmatched from the start. The FCS opponent does not have the playmakers to keep up with Justin Thomas and the Georgia Tech offense and the Jackets win 49-7.