Tennessee football had major issues getting a push on the West Virginia Mountaineers. Against the ETSU Bucs, the competition was much less. But they were facing a balanced offense likely to run the ball more with their star weapon at running back in Quay Holmes.
Emmit Gooden, shockingly, became the defensive tackle to get the push. Alexis Johnson was able to make a couple of plays, but Gooden was the defensive star of the game in the trenches. The four-star junior college transfer broke out in this match-up.
For the day, Gooden led the team in tackles with eight. He also had a sack and three tackles for a loss. Simply put, he was a huge playmaker for the Vols, and that counts for something. In fact, it may show some depth we thought but didn’t know for sure if they had.
Holmes only had 38 yards on 10 carries for the game, and although the Bucs had over 140 yards rushing overall while averaging just under four and a half yards a carry, Gooden did his best to shut that portion of the game down. He doesn’t have a standout play like many of the other guys on this list, but his play throughout the whole game is more than enough to get him on here.
At 6’3″ 306 pounds, Gooden gave the Vols another option to be able to properly run their 3-4 scheme. They still don’t have a true nose tackle, but Gooden is now in the conversation with Johnson and Shy Tuttle as valuable guys up front.