Vanderbilt starting tailback Norval McKenzie is likely to miss the rest of the 2002 season after suffering a lower leg injury at practice Tuesday.
McKenzie, a redshirt sophomore from Powder Springs, Ga., sustained a fractured lower right fibula during the final minutes of practice. Surgery could be an option, pending an evaluation by the team's medical staff, including Dr. Eric McCarty.
McKenzie was Vanderbilt's leading rusher with 326 yards on 42 carries. His 7.8-yard average per attempt was tied with Shaud Williams of Alabama as the best in the Southeastern Conference.
"Our first thoughts are with Norval," Head Coach Bobby Johnson said. "It is certainly an unfortunate and disappointing injury for this young man. We were expecting Norval to have a great second half of the season. After that, you start thinking about the affect on our offense. That's a lot of production to take out of the equation."
The Commodores are expected to move Kwane Doster, a true freshman from Tampa, Fla., into the starting tailback role when Vanderbilt hosts neighboring Middle Tennessee this Saturday night. Redshirt freshman Matthew Tant, likely to start at fullback, also could be action at tailback.
"We have a lot of confidence in Kwane (Doster) at tailback. There are some other guys that also could see action," Johnson said.
McKenzie could be the second Commodore starting tailback to suffer a season-ending injury this season. Junior Ronald Hatcher suffered a broken leg early in the Commodores' victory over Furman after starting at tailback in the team's first two games.