Mercer University opened its practice camp on Wednesday when 95 players reported.
The Bears have 18 practices and a pair of scrimmages scheduled in advance of their season opener on Aug. 28 against Reinhardt.
“I’ve always said that the first day is your most impressive practice, because the young men have fresh legs and they have a sense of excitement,” MercerBears.com quoted Mercer Coach Bobby Lamb as saying on Wednesday. “Our level of play was really good today, even though we were in what I call ‘pajama practice’ with helmets only. Now the entire secret of preseason camp is following this practice up with another good one tomorrow.”
Mercer was picked to finish seventh in the eight-team Southern Conference. The upcoming 2014 season will be the school’s first in the conference. The Bears, which restarted its program in 2013 after a 72-year hiatus, competed in the Pioneer Football League last year.
“Our kids last year did a great job, because if you watched from week to week we changed our offensive quite a bit based on who were playing,” MercerBears.com quoted Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line coach Casey Vogt as saying on Thursday. Our biggest thing this year though is just worrying about Reinhardt and the challenges they are going to bring in week one.”
Mercer’s complete 2014 schedule:
- Aug. 28: Reinhardt
- Sep. 6: Furman
- Sept. 13: at Stetson
- Sept. 20: Ave Maria
- Sept. 27: at VMI
- Oct. 4: at Samford
- Oct. 11: Austin Peay
- Oct. 18: Western Carolina
- Oct. 25: at Chattanooga
- Nov. 1: Citadel
- Nov. 15: Warner
- Nov. 22: at Wofford
In 2013, Mercer won 10 games, good enough to break the NCAA’s all-time record for victories by a start-up program. The previous mark for wins by a start-up program was nine.
Mercer kicked off its 2013 campaign with a pair of wins over NAIA squads — Reinhardt (6-4) and Warner (1-10). The Bears’ two other non-conference wins came against Division III opponents — Berry (1-9) and Carnegie Mellon (3-7).