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Vandy’s Norman Ends Career Due To Thinning Cartilage In His Knees

Warren-NormanVanderbilt senior running back Warren Norman is hanging up his cleats.  Not because he wants to, but because he has to.  Thinning cartilage in his knees will end the playing career of the SEC’s 2009 Freshman of the Year.


“I’m 100% sure I’m not coming back.  It’s my right knee that had surgery, but my left knee is pretty much the same thing.  The cartilage is wearing down pretty fast and it’s bothering me right now.  The doctor told me, basically, I wouldn’t be able to play on it.”


As a freshman, Norman tied an SEC record with three kickoff returns for touchdowns.  He also recorded 1,941 all-purpose yards, 1,050 kickoff return yards, and 783 yards rushing in that sterling ’09 campaign.

He suffered a knee injury in 2010 and redshirted in 2011 in order to rehab the leg.  Last season, he failed to recapture his old form.

He will hold a press conference this afternoon to make the decision official.

Disappointing news.  We wish him the best.


Warren Norman 51-yard run vs. Arkansas, Oct. 30, 2010



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South Carolina To Provide Different Challenge For Gator Defense

Yes, it was Vanderbilt, not South Carolina. The Commodores' offense, minus leading rusher Warren Norman, didn't exactly produce the type of unrest needed for Florida's defense to lose much sleep.

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Vandy beat writer says Commodores trying to survive, now without standout Warren Norman

Content provided by Swamp Things – Gators Blog.

For this week’s blog exchange, Swamp Things turned to Jeff Lockridge. Jeff covers Vanderbilt for the Tennessean, and you can read more about Vandy on his  blog.

1. How will the loss of running back and return specialist Warren Norman affect the team?

For starters, it takes away the team’s primary home-run threat. Norman was capable of breaking any run or returning a kickoff for a touchdown, as he did three times last season. Now an offense that was already struggling with Norman becomes extremely handcuffed. No. 2 back Zac Stacy will get the bulk of the carries, with reserves Wesley Tate and Kennard Reeves taking on bigger roles. Eric Samuels becomes the main kickoff returner.

2. Florida started relying on a no-huddle offense last week vs. Georgia. Has Vanderbilt faced teams like that this year, and if it hasn’t, how can the Commodores prepare for that?

Vanderbilt runs a no-huddle offense itself, so the defense sees it every day in practice. South Carolina and Arkansas also ran some no-huddle – with a good amount of success – against the Commodores the last two weeks. Familiarity isn’t an issue and fatigue during those drives shouldn’t be in the first half. For the most part, the breakdowns have come in the second half after the defense has spent most of the game on the field due to the offense’s inefficiency.

3. With two of the top punters in the SEC in this game, how do you see it playing out?

Richard Kent, a former walk-on, has been a pleasant surprise for Vanderbilt. He’s kept several games closer than they might otherwise have been thanks to the swings in field position. His specialty has been dropping punts inside the 20 – something he has done on 23 of 60 kicks. The downside is the Commodores have kept him entirely too busy. He is on pace to break the school record for punts in a season (ironically set last year by Brett Upson).

4. Vanderbilt hasn’t beaten Florida in a long time. How do the players approach a game like this where they’re not expected to win?

Hey, let’s be honest here. Vanderbilt is rarely expected to win any SEC game. So the approach is no different than the last three weeks, when the Commodores have been a significant underdog to Georgia, South Carolina and Arkansas. If anything, I think the players go into this game more optimistic than any Florida game in the last several years based on the Gators’ losses over the last month and the lack of an invincible aura without Tim Tebow.

5. Florida needs this win in order to go to the SEC championship game. Have the Commodores embraced the role of spoiler to try to prevent that?

I can promise you no one on Vanderbilt has given that the first thought, particularly with four games remaining. This team is in a bit of a freefall having lost its last three games by a 113-21 margin. It just lost Norman for the season and changed offensive coordinators last week. Coaches are scratching to keep their jobs for another year. So I doubt the word “spoiler” comes up. Right now the catch word is “survival.”

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SEC Headlines – 11/2/10 Part Three

1.  An undefeated home record – something they haven’t done since 1987 — is still a possibility for South Carolina.

2.  This week Carolina’s inconsistent pass defense will have to withstand Arkansas’ aerial assault.

3.  Alshon Jeffery should be considered one of the best receivers in the nation.

4.  Derek Dooley says neither of his quarterbacks have played well enough to earn four quarters of snaps.

5.  Safety Janzen Jackson will take over as UT’s punt returner Saturday at Memphis.

6.  Freshman defensive end Jacques Smith isn’t likely to miss any playing time after being arrested this weekend for simple assault.  Hmmm.

7.  Vanderbilt’s Zac Stacy says it’ll be hard to replace Warren Norman, one of the “best playmakers on the team.”

8.  Robbie Caldwell continues to defend his decision to flip-flop quarterbacks at Arkansas.

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Vandy’s Norman Out For The Year

More bad news came Vanderbilt’s way today — star tailback and kick returner Warren Norman will miss the remainder of the season with a dislocation of the right wrist.

“It will be a loss,” Robbie Caldwell said.  “His presence is pretty special.”

Norman leads the Commodores in rushing yards, carries and touchdowns.  His kick return abilities also helped him earn SEC Freshman of the Year honors last season.

Once Norman’s wrist heals, he will also undergo minor surgery on his knee.  He had arthroscopic surgery on the knee in the preseason.

Norman injured his wrist in the second quarter of Vandy’s 49-14 loss at Arkansas Saturday night.  Zac Stacy will now take over the starting role in Nashville.  Norman and Stacy combined for just 17 carries in Saturday’s loss.

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BREAKING NEWS: Warren Norman to Miss Remainder of 2010 Season

Content provided by Vanderbilt Sports Line.

Anchor of Gold is reporting that sophomore Warren Norman will miss the remainder of the season with a wrist injury (The Tennessean‘s Jeff Lockridge broke the story, I just saw AOG first). This is a big loss for a Commodores offense that already struggles mightily. Zac Stacy will become the featured back, with Wesley Tate likely moving up to #2 on the depth chart.

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Vandy’s Changes On Offense Only Lead To More Questions

Last week, Vanderbilt head coach Robbie Caldwell decided that changes were necessary on the offensive side of the ball.  Play-calling duties were stripped from Jimmy Kiser and given to new offensive coordinator Des Kitchings.  Heading into a game with an Arkansas squad that had given up more than 1000 yards in its previous two games, expectations were high for the Commodores.  More carries for Warren Norman and Zac Stacy were expected.

Here’s how things played out in Fayetteville:

Vandy’s first drive — 0-0 tie
Warren Norman rush for 2 yards
Warren Norman rush for 51 yards (15 yard Arkansas penalty)
Jonathan Krause 21 yard touchdown run on a reverse
Vandy 7, Arkansas 0

Vandy’s second drive — 7-6 Vandy lead
Larry Smith run for 7 yards
Zac Stacy run for 4 yards
Larry Smith incomplete pass
Larry Smith run for 13 yards
Larry Smith pass complete to Tray Herndon for 6 yards
Larry Smith run for 4 yards
Larry Smith incomplete pass
Larry Smith incomplete pass
Warren Norman run for 6 yards
Larry Smith pass complete to Brandon Barden for 12 yards
Vandy false start (-5 yards)
Larry Smith touchdown pass to Brandon Barden for 8 yards
Vandy 14, Arkansas 6

Not a bad start.  Two series, two touchdowns.  And then the Commodores lifted Smith to give backup quarterback Jared Funk some playing time. 

Result: An interception on his second pass which gave Arkansas the ball on Vandy’s 20… along with all the game’s momentum.  The Commodores gained 140 yards on their first two possessions.  They gained 13 total over the game’s final three quarters.

Final score: Arkansas 49, Vandy 14.  And for all the talk of giving more touches to Norman and Stacy, the two finished with a combined 17 carries.

To be honest, the Razorbacks likely would have picked apart Vandy’s secondary eventually anyway.  But the coaches’ decision to toy with a good start won’t be a highlight of their season-long audition.

You can bet that a lot of Vandy fans and boosters were saying what we often write on this site — If the plates are spinning, don’t touch ‘em.  For a quarter, the plates were spinning for VU’s offense.  But rather than ride the flow of the game and scrap their pregame plans to give Funk the third series, Caldwell and Kitchings chose to mess with success.

The head coach defended his decision after the game, saying that Funk had earned the playing time in Series Three with good practices.

“And it might have helped Larry play better, having a little pressure on him.  Who’s to say whether it did or didn’t?”

True enough.  But who’s to say a coach can’t change his mind if things are going well for his team?

Caldwell didn’t.  He rewarded Funk for his practice work and benched a hot hand.  By doing so he cost his team all its momentum.  And he might’ve cost himself more than that.

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Chris Low Predicts More Carries for Norman and Stacy

Content provided by Vanderbilt Sports Line.

Most of this video feature from Chris Low of is nothing terribly new. We’ve cited the problems of having your defense out on the field for too long getting worn down and the difficulties of finishing close games in the fourth quarter when your offense is one of the worst in college football in time of possession (not to mention total offense, scoring offense, passing offense, etc.). We’ve also talked about the need to get the ball in Warren Norman’s hands more often. The fact that he ran for 50 yards and 7.5 yards per carry but was only given the ball six times against South Carolina is, by my lights, completely unacceptable. Zac Stacy, the other bright spot on offense, likewise had only six carries.

What is revealing in this video is that Low predicts — presumably based on more than a mere hunch associating Kitchings’ role as running backs coach and his new position as OC — that we will now see more plays on the ground and fewer pass plays. If Vanderbilt does this, which is to say, if we are better able to use the run to set up the pass (see the Ole Miss game) rather than digging ourselves holes with poorly executed/ineffective pass plays and failing to convert first downs, then I think we can expect real improvement on offense. The question is whether it will be enough to satisfy fans that CRC is who they want to see at the helm in 2011.

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