(Stats Perform) - Southern Conference member Mercer is one of 17 FCS programs (out of 127 overall) that have announced they will play at least one nonconference game this fall. Due to coronavirus concerns, the SoCon postponed its conference schedule until a potential spring season.
LOCATION: Macon, Georgia
STADIUM: Moye Complex
HEAD COACH: Drew Cronic (first season, 47-6 overall)
2019 RECORD: 4-8, 3-5 Southern (7th)
2020 FALL SCHEDULE: at Jacksonville State (Oct. 10), at Army West Point (Oct. 24), Abilene Christian (Oct. 31)
PROJECTED RETURNING STARTERS: 13 (7 offense/6 defense)
3 KEY RETURNEES: RB Tyray Devezin, LT John Thomas, FS Luke Ward
BIGGEST SHOES TO FILL: DB Eric Jackson
OUTLOOK: Cronic, an assistant coach in the SoCon at Furman from 2002-10 and in 2017, had high-powered offenses as the head coach at Reinhardt and Lenoir-Rhyne. The Bears lost some potential returning standouts, including WR/KR David Durden and LB Sidney Otiwu, who both earned All-SoCon honors. They can rely heavily on Devezin, who became the second player in program history to surpass 1,000 rushing yards in a season, adding 13 touchdowns. Redshirt-junior QB Harrison Frost, who made three starts in 2018, but has mostly been the team's holder in his career, opens the season behind center with Robert Riddle, who passed for 15 touchdowns in seven games last year, working his way back from a season-ending injury for the second consecutive year. The defense figures to have growing pains as it returns only one player who finished in the top seven in tackles - Ward with 66. The Bears ranked last in rushing defense (269.2 yards per game on 5.7 yards per carry) and weren't helped by a negative-12 turnover margin. PK Caleb Dowden made his first nine field-goal attempts and scored 77 points as a redshirt freshman.