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Tag:Johnny Kiser
Posted on: November 9, 2010 12:22 pm
 

Vandy offense going from bad to worse

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

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.

Posted on: October 25, 2010 5:06 pm
 

Vandy coordinator carousel should stop on option

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's understandable that Vanderbilt would be a little desperate when it comes to the offensive coordinator's position: they rank 105th in total offense, a year after finishing 109th, a year after finishing 118th, a year after finishing 103rd.

But still, you'd think going through three coordinators in less than a calendar year would be a little much. Not if you're first-year head coach Robbie Caldwell , though, who today demoted previous play-caller Johnny Kiser back to quarterbacks coach and promoted running backs coach Des Kitchings to the coordinator's chair. Kiser was himself promoted just this past offseason at the expense of former coordinator Ted Cain , now the Commodores' special teams/tight ends coach.

That Caldwell has shaken up the usually-staid 'Dore coaching ranks is already on the surprising side. (Previous head man Bobby Johnson stuck with Cain through several disappointing seasons.) But what borders on stunning is that he selected the unproven Kitchings over a staff member with an excellent offensive pedigree and actual coordinating experience: Herb Hand , the current Vandy offensive line coach and a Rich Rodriguez disciple who served as co-coordinator alongside Gus Malzahn at Tulsa. Making the move even more mystifying is that for the past two seasons, Vandy has attempted (and largely failed) to run the same no-huddle, up-tempo attack that Hand had a major hand (heh) in developing with Malzahn for the Golden Hurricane.

That he was passed over in favor of Kitchings is probably a signal that Caldwell intends to scrap the sputtering no-huddle for something more conservative; he even added a "no comment" for good measure when asked about the possibility of such a change. But without a once-in-a-decade talent like Jay Cutler or Earl Bennett on hand -- and though Warren Norman is a productive running back, no such talent currently is -- swapping offensive philosophies at Vandy is like rearranging the proverbial deck chairs on that boat they made the move about.

Which is why Vandy is long overdue in following the lead of fellow academics-first peer Georgia Tech and embracing the triple option. Vandy faces an overwhelming talent deficit in regards to the rest of the SEC and realistically always will; it's past time, then, to turn towards the offensive scheme that has proven itself most able to level an uneven athletic playing field. After four straight years plumbing the bottom-most depths of the country's offensive rankings, it's safe to say that playing musical chairs in the coordinator's chair isn't going to deliver the kind of 180-degree change Vandy needs. With all due respect to Caldwell and Kitchings (who, in fairness, cannot do any worse than his predecessors), it's time to think much, much further outside the box.

 
 
 
 
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