Two weeks ago, Vanderbilt made an unusual midseason change at the offensive coordinator's position , elevating running backs coach Des Kitchings to the role of play-caller and demoting previous OC Johnny Kiser . The results have been, unfortunately, right in line with what you'd expect from Vandy following a Titanic deck-chair rearrangement: 156 total yards against Arkansas , a miserable 109 against Florida . Total first downs those two weeks: 15. Total punts those weeks: 19. Oy.
So if there's any team that deserves a break on the injury front, it's Vandy. But this being, you know, Vandy (which apparently used up all the luck they'd missed out on in the lean years before and all the luck they may ever have in their miraculous bowl season of 2008), they are not getting those breaks . In a sentence:
Vanderbilt will be without its top two running backs Saturday at Kentucky, and its No. 3 back is questionable.Those first two backs are Warren Norman , already out for the season following wrist surgery, and Zac Stacy , who started in Norman's place but left the Florida game in the second quarter following a concussion that has left him doubtful for the remainder of the season. Stacy's replacement, Wesley Tate , didn't even make it to halftime before injuring his ankle and remains questionable for the Commodores' matchup this weekend against Kentucky .
All of this attrition leaves senior Kennard Reeves as the team's likely starting tailback for Saturday. Reeves has 271 career yards in his four years at Vanderbilt, his 77 yards this year representing 6.4 percent of his team's total for the year. Norman and Stacy, Vandy's top two leading rushers? 67 percent.
If there's any good news for Vandy, it's that the Wildcat defense ranks ninth in conference play in total defense, so maybe Kitchings and the 'Dores can start to make some headway even without their most dangerous offensive players. But there's little doubt at this stage that Kentucky's still the ones getting the better news.