We continue our Rant Sports SEC 50 Players in 50 Days series with a look at Missouri Tiger linebacker Zaviar Gooden. Gooden will be an important piece for the Tigers, as they make the move to the SEC and look to improve on defense.
Zaviar Gooden, LB, Missouri:
Gooden followed up his 85 tackle sophomore campaign with an 80 tackle junior season. He has played in a total of 39 games in his Tiger career recording 196 total tackles with 125 of those being solo. Gooden is big enough, at 6’3″, 230 pounds to play the run but is fast enough to play in pass coverage. Made in the mold of former Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, Gooden was a safety coming out of high school, which makes him valuable in 2012 as the Tigers make the move to the SEC in what will put even more pressure on a defense that gave up an average of 382 yards per game in 2011.
To go with Gooden, the Tigers return linebacker, Andrew Wilson, who led the team in 2011 with 98 tackles. Wilson was also voted MVP of the Tiger’s bowl game. Also returning will be Will Ebner, who missed most of the 2011 season with an ankle injury but was granted a fifth year of eligibility.
When you take a look back at Missouri’s 2011 season, the Tiger’s defense played their best against Texas A&M, Texas and North Carolina. All three of these teams played in more of pro-style schemes, trying to win with a power running game. This may bode well for the Tigers moving forward in SEC play in 2012.
Gooden will be a name that SEC fans will learn by the end of the year, especially if the Tigers can win some games that the experts think they can’t. It will all start on September 8, when the Georgia Bulldogs come to Columbia in what will be an early test and the winner taking a slight advantage in the SEC East.