Vanderbilt names new offensive coordinator for Arkansas game

Nashville ( - Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell had seen enough.

The Commodores' offense, puttering along on life support for most of the last two seasons, is getting a makeover -- at least at the top.

Running backs coach Des Kitchings is taking over as offensive coordinator and will call the plays the rest of the season. Jimmy Kiser will go back to coaching quarterbacks.

This is the second change Vanderbilt has made at the top of the offensive chain in the last couple of years. Kiser replaced Ted Cain this offseason as offensive coordinator, although Kiser called most of the plays last season.

More than anything, Caldwell is looking to pump any life he can into an offense that has been held to seven points the last two games. Kitchings, 32, is energetic, well-thought of throughout the program and coaches the most talented position on offense -- the running backs.

Caldwell wasn't saying whether the Commodores would completely scrap the spread, no-huddle attack they went to at the beginning of last season. The reality is that it's almost impossible to totally revamp an offense in the middle of the season and start from scratch.

One thing I think you will see under Kitchings, though, is that he's going to feature running backs Warren Norman and Zac Stacy, the two best playmakers on Vanderbilt's offense.

Norman had a 40-yard run on the first play of the game last week against South Carolina. He only had five more carries the rest of the way.

The Commodores simply don't have the pieces in place offensively to effectively run the spread, and that's been painfully obvious for the better part of the last two seasons. It's not what quarterback Larry Smith does best, and he also hasn't had an abundance of receivers to throw to that can take short catches and turn them into big gains.

Vanderbilt has to find a way to sustain some drives. Last in the SEC in scoring offense and total offense, the Commodores are 118th nationally (out of 120 teams) in time of possession.

Kitchings said it's imperative that the Commodores are more efficient on first and third downs, starting this Saturday at Arkansas.

"If we are able to do that, then we can stay on the field longer, have more plays, more yardage and more opportunities to score points," Kitchings said.