Midseason review: Vanderbilt


Record: 2-3 (1-1 SEC)

Robbie Caldwell was already well known for his ability to develop an offensive line and his penchant for telling a good joke. But in taking over the Vanderbilt program, he’s also helped to add some pop to an offense that was dreadful a year ago. The Commodores are actually scoring points and moving the ball and are getting key contributions from an array of younger players. They’re painfully close to being 3-2 right now had they not missed an extra point against Northwestern (a controversial call near the end of the game also went against them). They’re healthier at running back than they were to start the season and are averaging 171.6 yards per game on the ground. The secondary has emerged as one of the better ones in the league, and the Commodores are second in the SEC against the pass. They’ve only given up five touchdown passes. But if they’re going to make a run at the .500 mark, they have to be much better against the run the second half of the season.

Offensive MVP: RB Warren Norman. The SEC Freshman of the Year last season, Norman leads the Commodores in rushing with 327 yards and four touchdowns. He’s also their leader in all-purpose yardage and ranks fifth in the SEC in that category, averaging 142.8 yards per game. Norman underwent arthroscopic knee surgery during preseason practice, but was back in time for the first game.

Defensive MVP: CB Casey Hayward. One of the most underrated players in the SEC, Hayward has picked up where he left off last season. He has four interceptions in five games and is a good enough cover guy that more and more teams are avoiding his side of the field all together. The 6-foot, 185-pound junior is a big reason why the Commodores rank second in the SEC in passing defense.