Vanderbilt season recap

December, 7, 2010
12/07/10
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The first shakeup for the Vanderbilt Commodores came a few weeks before the start of preseason practice when Bobby Johnson abruptly retired. Veteran offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell was promoted to replace Johnson, but Caldwell’s tenure was a short one.

As the Commodores put the wraps on their second consecutive 10-loss season, the university announced at the end of November that Caldwell would not be back as head coach.

From the outset, Caldwell was in a tough spot. The Commodores (2-10, 1-7) were decimated by injuries, struggled up front offensively and never found any consistency in the passing game. Their top two offensive weapons, running backs Warren Norman and Zac Stacy, both ended the season on the bench with injuries, while junior quarterback Larry Smith threw six touchdown passes to go along with five interceptions and completed just 47.4 percent of his passes.

The Vanderbilt defense, a staple the past few seasons, also took its lumps. The Commodores were last in the league in total defense, giving up an average of 419.2 yards per game. Of course, it seemed like they spent the entire season on the field. The Commodores did manage an SEC win, avoiding back-to-back winless seasons in the league.

Offensive MVP: Tight end Brandon Barden. When you look at Vanderbilt’s numbers, there just wasn’t much to choose from on offense. Norman only played in eight games. Barden played in all 12 and led the team in catches (34) and receiving yards (425). He also had three touchdown receptions.

Defensive MVP: Cornerback Casey Hayward: He emerged into one of the most well-rounded cornerbacks in the SEC, leading the league with 17 passes defended and finishing second with six interceptions. He was a second-team All-SEC selection by the Associated Press.

Turning point: The Commodores just missed beating Northwestern at home in the season opener and then beat Ole Miss by two touchdowns on the road two weeks later. After mauling Eastern Michigan, the Commodores were sitting there at 2-3, but lost their final seven games by a combined 264-78 margin.

What’s next: The first order of business is finding a head coach. Some of the names being mentioned include include Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, Temple coach Al Golden, Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, Stanford associate head coach Greg Roman, Miami (Ohio) coach Michael Haywood, former Miami coach Randy Shannon, former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden and Navy offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper.

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