Vanderbilt loses leading rusher for remainder of season

Monday, November 1, 2010 at 4:51pm

At times this season, Vanderbilt’s first-year football coach Robbie Caldwell has called his team fragile. In so doing, he referred to the Commodores’ mental state or confidence level.

Suddenly, Vanderbilt has started to break down physically as well.

For the second straight week, the Commodores have lost a player for the rest of the season. Starting running back Warren Norman dislocated his right wrist during Saturday’s 49-14 loss to Arkansas. He will have season-ending surgery Tuesday.

“It is going to hurt,” Caldwell said. “It will be a loss. His presence, he never says a word, but his presence is pretty special.”

The injury comes after starting cornerback Jamie Graham’s season-ending knee surgery last week. The Whites Creek alum tore his meniscus against South Carolina on Oct. 23. He was expected to be out for three to six weeks and just four games remain.

Norman, the 5-foot-10, 198-pound sophomore, was Vanderbilt’s top rusher with 459 yards (6.0 yards a carry) and four touchdowns. The Stone Mountain, Ga. native was the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2009. He also returned kickoffs and had a team-high 22 returns for 558 yards – a 25.4-yard average.

Sophomore Zac Stacy (56 carries for 321 yards and three touchdowns) will get the bulk of the carries now. Redshirt freshman Wesley Tate, a Hendersonville native who went to Pope John Paul II, and senior Kennard Reeves also will see their rushing attempts increase. Sophomore Eric Samuels (12 returns for 247 yards) will handle a majority of the kickoff returns, with Jonathan Krause, John Cole and Stacy also will chip in.

In addition to his wrist, Norman requires additional surgery on his knee after his wrist heals. He had arthroscopic surgery on the knee before the season.

“It is always hard to lose one of your best playmakers on the team,” Stacy said. “I just hate it for Warren. He is a great athlete, a great player. But we just got to go on. We have pretty good playmakers in the offense. I feel like Warren was a huge aspect on the offense but we still got playmakers.

“Despite the fact of Warren’s injury, you just tend to have a pride thing about it. I’m going to do what I can to help the team be successful, especially from an offensive standpoint.”