The Caldwell difference?

It's the fourth quarter. Vanderbilt trails, under the lights at home, against a team coming off a near-miss loss to a good Auburn team in a New Year's Day bowl game.

Though the Commodores are down only 2, their drive stalls at the opponent's 40-yard line. It's now fourth-and-two.

What does Bobby Johnson do?

Commodore Nation (along with the rest of the planet) knows the answer: send in the punt squad.

Larry Smith drops his head in frustration, already taking the straps off his helmet for a chewing-out on the sideline. The punting unit huddles around the head coach, getting last-second direction.

Only, instead of sending them out to "flip the field," this head coach grabs the punter's arm and says, with a lilting, South Carolina drawl, "Wait a minute, boy!"

Somewhere along the way -- perhaps when he was changing offices? -- the new head coach must have lost the memo that says, "Vanderbilt doesn't do fourth-and conversions."

What he does next makes it plain that Bobby Johnson's no longer roaming the sidelines of Dudley Field.

Where everyone would have predicted a Commodore punt, Robbie Caldwell sees an opportunity. He tells Larry Smith to get his helmet back on and get back out on the field.

Robbie Caldwell's Commodores have to scramble to get back into position: quarterback Smith wasn't the only player who knew what Vanderbilt "always" does. The punting unit, already five or ten yards onto the field, rushes to get off the field before the ball is snapped.

With precious seconds ticking away on the play clock, Larry Smith takes the snap. The Vanderbilt Family holds its collective breath: will it be the Commodores' signature quarterback draw (you know, the play they run every 6 plays under the mighty Cain Offensive Scheme)?

Smith gives the ball to Warren Norman, who's still behind the line of scrimmage. A low groan goes up at first -- the Black and Gold Faithful have seen this play before: hand off to a running back, sacked behind the line of scrimmage, 1-and-10 for the bad guys, plus they're sitting pretty in great field position.

But the groan turns to cheers as Norman breaks loose -- not only does he get the 2 yards needed for the first down, but he rumbles 10 yards for an 8-yard gain: First down, Commodores.

Though Ryan Folwer -- the young placekicker -- misses the 46-yard field goal, the star-spangled Golden crowd knows that something's different.

Finally, there's a chance that the Commodores have a coach who's willing to be aggressive enough (when it's appropriate) to take the risks that a team like Vanderbilt has to take if it ever hopes to succeed in the SEC.

And while some may second-guess his 2-point conversion decision in the third quarter, when Vanderbilt still trailed by 2, no one can fault the new Commander of the Commodore's Fleet for not doing whatever it takes to win.

It may not mean much against the powerful Tigers of LSU tomorrow night on Dudley Field: but there's a good chance it will make a difference when the Commodores line up against a more equal foe.

The difference? His name is Robbie Caldwell.

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