September 18, 2010 11:01:00 PM
OXFORD -- For his first two months as Vanderbilt University''s new football coach, Robbie Caldwell was only known for his jokes.
But after the Commodores beat Mississippi 28-14 on Saturday for his first career victory, he proved his coaching skills might not be too bad either.
"It''s not all about me," Caldwell said. "It''s about the young men on the football team. I''m so thrilled they tasted victory."
Warren Norman rushed for 111 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown, as Vanderbilt (1-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) snapped a 10-game conference losing streak dating back to 2008. The Commodores have beaten the Rebels four of the past six seasons.
It was Norman''s third career 100-yard rushing game, and his first against an SEC opponent. The Commodores did most of their damage on the ground, rushing for 227 yards.
Vanderbilt lived off big plays all afternoon. The Commodores scored their first three touchdowns on 35-yard touchdown run by Zac Stacy, a 21-yard interception return by Eddie Foster and the biggest of all -- Norman''s 80-yard touchdown run that gave them the lead for good.
Norman''s touchdown came at a critical juncture. Ole Miss (1-2, 1-1) had just tied the scored at 14-14 when the 5-foot-10, 195-pound sophomore scored on Vanderbilt''s first play from scrimmage, running untouched for the longest run of his career and the second-longest run in school history.
"It just opened up," Norman said. "I almost hesitated because it opened up so big."
Larry Smith added a 15-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He also completed 9 of 19 passes for 73 yards.
Caldwell, who replaced Bobby Johnson after he surprisingly stepped down in July, is the first Vanderbilt coach to win his road debut since 1975.
Just days after Caldwell was announced as Vanderbilt''s coach, he arrived at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., as a virtual unknown. But after a hilarious 40-minute speech that included topics ranging from his work on a turkey farm to his rotund frame, he received a standing ovation from some of the gathered reporters.