Vol fans haven’t had a great deal to smile about so far this 2017 season, but there’s been one player who has consistently been solid game in and game out. And that’s redshsirt junior defensive back Rashaan Gaulden.
According to Pro Football Focus, Gaulden grades out as one of the best defensive backs against the pass in the SEC so far this season. According to their data, quarterbacks have just a 24.4 passer rating when they target receivers covered by Gaulden this season. Only three other defensive backs in the entire conference have held quarterbacks to lower passer ratings this season.
New face atop the leaderboard in the SEC in terms of lowest passer rating when targeted.
Just another name to know on that Alabama defense. pic.twitter.com/LYBbN9nFN6
— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) October 6, 2017
Gaulden has been thriving in a starting nickel corner role the past two seasons. After missing the entire 2015 season due to injury, Gaulden totaled 68 tackles, six tackles for loss, four passes defended, and a forced fumble in 13 games last season. And this season has seen even better production from the redshirt junior.
In five games this season, Gaulden has 30 tackles, two tackles for loss, an interception, a pass defended, and a forced fumble.
Tennessee as a whole has the best pass defense in the SEC in terms of yards allowed per game. The Vols have only given up 129.2 passing yards per game so far this season, but those numbers are skewed because of who the Vols have played thus far. Tennessee’s opponents have only attempted 96 passes against them, which is tied with Mississippi State for the fewest in the conference. Opposing quarterback’s passer rating against the Vols is 123.71, and that is eighth in the SEC. And the Vols are tied for the second-fewest interceptions in the conference with just two through five games.
Gaulden has been a bright spot for the Vols this season so far, and they will need him to continue to play well if they want to turn around this season.