September 17, 2009 11:53:00 AM
Southeastern Conference teams know depth in the backfield is crucial.
Vanderbilt University is glad to have it.
With senior running back Jared Hawkins still unable to do very much in practice with a foot injury, freshmen Zac Stacy and Warren Norman and junior Kennard Reeves have emerged for the Commodores.
Stacy had 89 yards on 20 carries and Reeves added 35 yards on five carries in the 23-9 loss to LSU.
"It''s just a matter of preparing in practice all week and taking advantage of the opportunities you are given," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. "I thought Kennard and Zac played extremely well (against LSU). We just went with the two guys who were performing well."
Johnson believes the running game could be a factor at 6 p.m. Saturday (FOX SportsNet South) when the Commodores play host to Mississippi State.
Stacy has rushed 40 times this season for 222 yards, an average of 111 yards per game and 5.6 per carry.
Johnson knew what he was getting from Carter, a recruit from Centreville, Ala.
"He was one of the leading rushers in the state of Alabama last year," Johnson said. "He is a compact and strong runner. He''s one of those guys that has a knack for making great cuts at the right time."
Johnson said it remains to be seen if Stacy can take the physical pounding in the SEC, but he likes how he catches the football out of the backfield.
Being able to run and stop the run will be a key for the Commodores (1-1, 0-1 SEC) against the Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1 SEC).
Johnson knows MSU has a talented and deep group of running backs with Anthony Dixon, Christian Ducre'', Robert Elliott, and Arnil Stallworth.
Dixon had 107 yards on 27 carries against Vanderbilt last season, so Johnson knows his run defense must be better.
"Dixon killed us last year," Johnson said. "We have played well against the run in the first two games."
The Commodores have only allowed an average of 109.5 rushing yards in the two games. "If we can continue to do that, we''ll be OK," Johnson said.
n Cans worth $15 discount on Miss. St.-Vanderbilt tickets: For the value of a few cans of food from the pantry, Vanderbilt football fans can get discounted tickets to Saturday''s home game against Mississippi State.
Tickets bought at the Vanderbilt athletic office through Friday are $35 with a food donation -- a $15 discount. No discounts will be available on game day.
The food will go to Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee as part of the Southeastern Conference Together We Can food drive.
The minimum donation is one can of food per ticket.
Vanderbilt will also collect cans of food at the stadium gates Saturday from fans who wish to donate.
Associated Press reports were included in this story.