NASHVILLE - Robbie Caldwell is preparing for Vanderbilt’s regular season finale. It also could be his final game as the Commodores’ head coach, and he says he’s working on what he can control right now.
Caldwell is 2-9 with Vanderbilt having lost six straight games in his first season. The Commodores wrap up the season Saturday night against Wake Forest (2-9), and he said Monday at his weekly news conference he doesn’t know the status of his future with the program.
“I sure don’t. I have no idea. I’m just going to keep working. I can’t control that. I’m trying to work on things I can control, but good question,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell got his first head coaching job in mid-July about seven weeks before Vanderbilt’s season opener when Bobby Johnson unexpectedly retired. That left Caldwell little time to make changes, though he did change offensive coordinators in October.
The offense, riddled by injuries, has made improvements since, especially in the past two games with new coordinator Des Kitchings working from the booth instead of the sideline.
Vanderbilt had a couple long drives and finished with 77 plays for 333 yards in last week’s 24-10 loss to instate rival Tennessee. They held the ball a few seconds shy of 30 minutes.
Caldwell wants to make more changes in the future. But he said if Saturday night is his last game at Vanderbilt, that he would be sad.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here at Vanderilt, but hopefully it won’t be. ... I understand that’s the life of a football coach in this day and time,” Caldwell said. “I told you the story a few weeks ago. Jim Valvano came in with a lifetime contract and got fired. There’s nothing in stone as a coach. You live from one year to the next. You hope to go from there.”
Injuries that have hampered Vanderbilt all season just keep getting worse. Defensive tackle Rob Lohr now is doubtful against Wake Forest after hurting an elbow in the loss to Tennessee.
Caldwell has played 13 true freshmen on a team that will have 17 seniors recognized Saturday night but not one leading even a single statistical category for the Commodores.
Those same players are thinking more about finishing off the season, and their careers, with a rare win in the final game of the season at Vanderbilt. Linebacker Nate Campbell said he tunes out any speculation to avoid letting negativity creep in.
Senior Kennard Reeves has started the past two games at running back due to injuries.
“As a senior headed out, I’m not sure what they’re going to do. Either way we want to finish strong. This last game I feel like it would be huge to finish with a win and get that W and hopefully get the program headed in the right direction,” Reeves said.