Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith has a torn left hamstring and will miss the final three games of the season.
Coach Bobby Johnson said Monday that an MRI conducted on the redshirt-sophomore revealed the extent of the damage. Smith was injured at the end of a career-long 35-yard run late in the first quarter of Saturday’s 56-31 loss to Georgia Tech.
“The best prognosis that I’ve heard is (he’ll be out) four-six weeks,” Johnson said. “We’ve had guys who have tweaked hamstrings and have not come back in four weeks.
“This was a pretty significant injury.”
Senior Mackenzi Adams replaced Smith on Saturday.
He will make his first start of the season this week when the Commodores (2-7, 0-5 in the SEC) play No.1 Florida (8-0, 6-0) in Gainesville, Fla. It will be the 10th start and 40th appearance of his career.
Adams has passed for 2,388 yards with 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. He also has rushed for 526 yards and three touchdowns.
“Mackenzi has had a lot of experience here,” Johnson said. “He is really smart. He knows our offense, and it wont take him long to get up to speed – to me he was up to speed the other day as soon as he went in.
“We expect him to go in there and get right to it.”
Smith started 10 consecutive games, beginning with the 2008 Music City Bowl against Boston College. This season he completed 106 of 227 passes (46.7 percent) for 1,126 yards with five touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also rushed 85 times for 213 yards and two touchdowns.
He completed the only two passes he attempted against Georgia Tech.
“He was having a great game when he got hurt,” Johnson said. “He led us to a touchdown, and the long run he got hurt on, I think he was trying to slow down. … He was trying to come to a stop and his leg looked like it buckled a little bit.”
Adams directed the offense to a touchdown six plays after Smith was injured. He ultimately completed 12 of 22 passes for 152 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He rushed three times for three yards and lost a fumble.
“We still have the same throws, and (Adams) can run the ball,” Johnson said. “He’s done that his whole career and he’s tough enough to play in those games where you get banged up a little bit.”
Third-year sophomore Jared Funk will be Adams’ backup.
He has never attempted a pass in a college game, but he has been a regular on some of the Commodores’ special teams’ units this season. Johnson said he will be pulled off of those units so that he can focus on quarterback for the remainder of the season.
Adams’ last start was in last season’s 42-14 loss to Florida.
The Gators’ defense currently leads the SEC – and is second nationally – in total defense, pass defense and scoring defense. That unit is second in the conference and 11th in the country against the run.
“Mackenzi won’t be scared, let me tell you that,” Johnson said. “He’ll be confident. He’ll plan on making every throw, every read, every decision. He’s done it before, so that’s not going to be a different experience for him.”
• The start time and broadcast plans for Vanderbilt’s final home game of the season, Nov. 14 against Kentucky, were announced Monday. Kickoff was set for 11:20 a.m. (CST) and the contest was picked as the SEC Network game of the week on WUXP-TV (Ch. 30).
• Vanderbilt’s next defeat will be the 100th of Johnson’s coaching career. His overall record is 88-99, including 29-63 with the Commodores.
• Left tackle Thomas Welch re-injured an ankle that had bothered him in recent weeks and did not finish Saturday’s contest. Johnson said at this point it’s unlikely that Welch, who has started 22 straight contests, will play at Florida.
• Freshman running back Warren Norman leads the SEC – and is 10th in the nation – for all-purpose yards. His average of 169.6 yards is more than 20 yards better than the conference’s next-most-productive performer, Alabama’s Mark Ingram (148.8).