Inside Vandy: Norman out for season
Published: Monday, November 1, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 12:13 a.m.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt running back Warren Norman will have surgery on a dislocated right wrist on Tuesday, knocking the Commodores’ top rusher out for the rest of the season.
Norman was injured in the second half of Saturday night’s 49-14 loss at then-No. 19 Arkansas. Coach Robbie Caldwell said Monday that Norman will need to have pins and screws inserted to repair the dislocation.
“It’s going to hurt,” Caldwell said. “He’s been a good playmaker for us. He made a play Saturday night ... obviously gave us a chance to score on that first drive. ... It’ll be a loss. ... He never says a word, but his presence is pretty special.”
Norman was the 2009 Southeastern Conference freshman of the year and set the league record with 1,951 all-purpose yards, topping the mark set by Herschel Walker at Georgia. Norman leads Vanderbilt with 77 carries for 459 yards and four touchdowns. He also averaged 25.4 yards on 22 kick returns, and he ranked fourth with 11 catches.
He ranked 23rd nationally averaging 140.9 yards per game this season. Norman also set up Vanderbilt’s opening touchdown in Arkansas with a 51-yard run.
With the injury, Caldwell said Vanderbilt had hoped to fix Norman’s knee as well. Norman had arthroscopic surgery in August and played 10 days later. Doctors still need to go back in and stimulate some growth around the bone, but Caldwell said that will have to wait until Norman is healthy enough to use crutches.
Vanderbilt still has Zac Stacy, and Caldwell said more carries will go to redshirt freshman Wesley Tate, younger brother of Golden Tate now with the Seattle Seahawks, and Kennard Reeves.
“Wesley Tate’s had some time to heal up. It’s time for him to show his value to our offense, and I think he can. I think he will, and Kennard Reeves has played some,” Caldwell said. “It’s time for them to take on a bigger load.”
The timing couldn’t be much worse for Vandy to lose its best playmaker on offense. The Commodores (2-6, 1-4) have lost three straight, been outscored 113-21 and have Florida (5-3, 3-3) visiting Saturday. They also are coming off a game in which they scored on their first two drives for the first time this season only to finish with 13 yards the rest of the game.
Caldwell switched up his offensive coordinator a week ago, moving Jimmy Kiser to quarterbacks and handing Des Kitchings the duties of play-calling. They went into Arkansas planning to play senior Jared Funk at quarterback, and they put him in for Larry Smith on the third series.
The coach defended the move Monday,
“I think it helped Larry, made him play a little better ... He knows the competition is back,” Caldwell said. “We’re trying to create that at every position. We’re saying players that don’t have much experience, they’ve got to compete to get in there. I like the approach the offensive staff took.”
Vanderbilt currently ranks 114th out of 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total offense, averaging a mere 286.8 yards per game. The Commodores have used a type of no-huddle, hurry-up offense trying to catch defenses off guard. Caldwell said they had Arkansas in a bit of “disarray” early.
Caldwell, promoted to head coach just seven weeks before this season opened, said he’s making some plans for the future for changes on offense but he isn’t prepared to comment yet on what those will be. For now, he wants his coaches working hard to put players in position to make plays.
“Right now we need to manage the clock better and control the game some. That’s what we tried to do, and we’re working back toward that so we can compete,” he said.