Vanderbilt won in its last visit to Kentucky, a victory that
made the Commodores bowl-eligible for the first time since 1982.
Kentucky can clinch bowl eligibility with a win Saturday.
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said Monday the Commodores played
much better than the score indicated against Florida.
"It's going to be a huge challenge with only 12 points deciding
the game in the last seven years," Phillips said. "Nobody has
dominated a game. It's been down to the wire every year since we've
been back here the last seven years. So it will be a physical game
and a big challenge for us."
Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell is
scouring his roster, looking for more options at running back with
the latest injury to Zac Stacy.
The sophomore is doubtful with a concussion suffered in last
weekend's 55-14 loss to Florida. Stacy was knocked out and had to
be carted off the field only a week after the Commodores (2-7, 1-5
Southeastern Conference) lost top rusher Warren Norman to a
dislocated right wrist.
Wesley Tate had an MRI after hurting his leg, the same leg he
injured earlier this year. That leaves Kennard Reeves as their only
healthy running back who's had a carry in a game this season.
"Right now we're a little fragile," Caldwell said Monday.
"We're beat up, a little undermanned. We got more in the training
room than we probably have on the field. Hopefully, we'll have some
of those back by Wednesday and be ready to go to work."
The Commodores visit Kentucky (5-5, 1-5) on Saturday, and
Caldwell said Monday his coaches are looking at moving players
around to fill the gap. It won't be easy. Vanderbilt has been
outscored 168-35 in a four-game skid and now ranks 118th out of 120
FBS teams in total offense.
"We're making preparations offensively to try to do things,
formations, moving people over to possibly going empty, five-wides,
use the healthy people we got. We're going to find a way to try to
move the ball, score points and win this game," Caldwell said.
At this point, it'd be too tough for the Commodores to do much
worse in Caldwell's first season as head coach.
Vanderbilt had 10 three-and-outs against Florida, turnovers
ended three other drives and a fake field goal failed. Richard Kent
punted 12 times and had two blocked. The Commodores did hold onto
the ball for the longest against an SEC opponent this year and best
since the opener with 28 minutes, 49 seconds of time of possession.
Caldwell said he's hoping Tate will be able to give them
something this week but won't know more until Thursday. Other
possible options include redshirt sophomores Micah Powell and Reece
Lovell. Giving defensive back Eric Samuels some plays on offense
also is a possibility.
Throwing more also will be studied. But passing isn't this
team's strength. Vandy is averaging 135.1 yards per game, 115th
nationally. Caldwell said they may have to throw with so many
running backs hurt.
"We're going to find a way to get it done," Caldwell said.
That isn't all of Vanderbilt's injuries. Defensive lineman Adam
Smotherman's attempt to return from a torn ACL in the spring ended
last week, and defensive end Walker May has a high ankle sprain
making him iffy against Kentucky. That doesn't even count players
like linebacker Chris Marve and others who got hurt in the loss to
Florida but returned during the game.