The offensive surge under Vanderbilt’s new offensive coordinator didn’t last long enough.
After scoring on their first two drives, the Commodores went quiet and No. 19 Arkansas woke up. The Razorbacks scored on five of their last six possessions of the first half as they cruised to a 49-14 victory in Fayetteville, Ark., on Saturday night.
Des Kitchings made his debut as offensive coordinator -- he was promoted from running backs coach earlier in the week and took over for Jimmy Kiser -- and he established the running game early. Vanderbilt ran on its first five plays of the game.
A three-play, 70-yard opening drive was capped off by Jonathan Krause's 21-yard touchdown run on a reverse. It was the first time all season that Vanderbilt (2-6, 1-4 SEC) scored on its opening drive.
Arkansas (6-2, 3-2) responded with a touchdown but the Commodores held the lead when they blocked the extra point.
Quarterback Larry Smith guided Vanderbilt to the end zone on the following drive. He hooked up with Brandon Barden for an eight-yard touchdown for a 14-6 lead with 3:53 left in the first quarter.
Then the Razorbacks took over.
Knile Davis scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to cut the VU lead to one point early in the second quarter.
The Commodores mixed things up on the ensuing drive and went with backup quarterback Jared Funk. Funk’s second pass was tipped and intercepted. Arkansas capitalized as quarterback Ryan Mallett hooked up with Jarius Wright for a 15-yard touchdown.
Later in the second quarter, Smith fumbled in his own end zone and Arkansas recovered for a safety. Mallett again hooked up with Wright from 15 yards out for another score. The Razorbacks tacked on a field goal right before halftime for a 32-14 lead.
Mallett entered the game ranked ninth in the nation in passing (291.4 yards per game). He didn’t disappoint.
He finished with three touchdowns and 411 yards on 27-of-44 passing and connected with eight different receivers. Davis added two touchdowns and 81 rushing yards on 19 carries. Arkansas had 556 total yards of offense.
For Vanderbilt, Smith was just 4-for-12 for 25 passing yards. Funk was 2-for-5 with 12 passing yards and two touchdowns. Because Vanderbilt was sacked five times for a loss of 40 yards, the Commodores finished with minus-3 net passing yards. They had 159 rushing yards on 26 carries. Warren Norman led the way with 11 rushes for 65 yards. He picked up 51 yards on Vanderbilt’s second play of the game.