After a pretty comfortable 38-24 win against Ole Miss last week, the Razorbacks get another ‘breather’ Saturday as they host the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-5, 1-3). The Homecoming game for the Hogs is a 6 p.m. kickoff, televised by Fox Sports Net (FSN).
After stunning the Rebels 28-14 in Oxford in Week 3, the Commodores have mustered only 10 total points in their other three SEC losses (LSU, Georgia, South Carolina). Because of their poor showing offensively, first year head coach Robbie Caldwell has decided to switch offensive coordinators in mid-season, starting this week in Fayetteville. Running backs coach Des Kitchings will take over for OC and quarterbacks coach Jimmy Kiser.
During the preseason, we rolled our eyes a bit when we heard Kiser try and describe what Vandy quarterback Larry Smith (1,005 passing yards, 5 TDs, 4 interceptions in 2010) needed to do to improve his passing. “He’s got to improve on some accuracy and completion percentage and stuff like that,” Kiser said. Smith is completing 51.8% of his passes in 2010 after completing 46.7% last year.
The takeaway from this coaching change for Hog fans should be — get ready for an increased emphasis on the run game from the Commodores. Running backs Warren Norman (395 yards, 4 TDs) and Zac Stacy (297 yards, 3 TDs) will likely see the rock a bit more, as will Smith who has rushed for 195 yards on the year.
“The run game is the strongest [unit] we have and Des is the run coordinator. Obviously it puts him at the head of the line there,” Caldwell said. “We need to get the running backs the ball.â€ Caldwell added, “We are a fragile bunch offensively.”
Defensively, the Commodores will primarily line up in a 4-3 scheme but have shown multiple looks, especially on third downs. Big hitting safety Sean Richardson leads the team in total tackles with 60, while junior cornerback Casey Heyward leads the nation in interceptions with five.
Last week against South Carolina, the Commodore defense held up pretty well for a while holding the Gamecocks to 141 total yards in the first half. Without star running back Marcus Lattimore (ankle), Carolina struggled to run the ball. Eventually quarterback Stephen Garcia took over the game. Garcia ended up throwing for 355 yards and two touchdowns in the 21-7 win.
For the Hogs this week, injured wide receivers Joe Adams and Greg Childs are looking ‘iffy.’ Freshman Julian Horton and Maudrecus Humphrey could see more snaps this week if the pair fails to improve. Only a few scores should be required, as it is unlikely the Commodores will see double digits on the scoreboard unless the Hogs help them with turnovers. Arkansas is favored by 21 points.