The state of announcing in football -- college and pro -- is in my opinion considerably worse than the other major sports. Football has some built-in disadvantages that aren't worth getting into here, but the sport also has a history of "analysts" that offer little more than grunting and posturing. Some are openly disdainful of actually analyzing anything.
The recently deceased Todd Christensen was a notable exception. Even when I wasn't buying what he was selling, I had to consider his opinion and process it. I learned more about the game by listening to him. I always held out hope that he'd make a return to the booth in a prominent way. Unfortunately we lost him last week.
Onto my two thoughts.
1. Sometimes the "little things" can come in BIG packages
I believe that in the last part of games, and seasons, you win on the quality of the offensive line. They don't need to be overwhelming. A team just has to be able to run when it wants and throw when it wants.
If you are still searching for a reason to believe in this Tiger team, it's that we have such an offensive line. It's not necessarily the biggest or most talented, but it's one of the best handful I have seen this year. This line can keep defenses on the field. The QB mostly determines how many sacks the team takes. The offensive line determines a team's ability to attack any particular area of the field.
This is the time of year where teams absolutely, positively must be able to sustain drives. I am very excited to be turning the season over to this group on offense. The one game where Missouri never seized control the line of scrimmage on offense in this way was South Carolina. And to be clear, the Gamecocks didn't dominate the Tiger offensive line as much as make it play inconsistently. To use our much-beloved boxing metaphor, the Gamecocks won that matchup on points. They didn't score a knockout. There is much to be said when a unit didn't get knocked out in its worst effort.
2. I love it when the staff sees things my way
The last play of Auburn-Georgia made me glad for Steckel and this defense. An unfortunate deflection can happen to any defensive back. I'm not part of the crowd that wants to make that deflection an act of "selfishness".
(I think Josh Harvey-Clemons is going to be a heck of a safety. He erred in approaching the pass with his hands set too low to get them above the ball--a prerequisite for knocking it down. But seriously, it was a line drive-type pass on a route that called for a Hail Mary.)
I just love that when faced with similar situations Steck seems (my impression) to opt for pressuring the passer rather than rushing three and dropping an 8th defender, which is what Georgia did. In a "one-play-beats-me" scenario, I would rather try to impact the throw than the catch. I don't want the QB to be comfortable if I can help it. Ideally, I want him to throw short or at least quickly.
I suppose it's a matter of personal choice and knowing your roster. And of course, Missouri obviously gave up a huge score on 4th down against man coverage vs. South Carolina (as you may recall). So I don't want to claim some moral superiority. It's just that as a fan I'm happy the coaching staff sees it my way. You don't always get that.
I also happen to love the fact that after 80+ defensive snaps in the season's lone loss, it took pinpoint accuracy, well-run routes and no drops to beat this defense. The Gamecocks didn't play a five minute stretch of football that good at any point in the Florida game this past week.
This is going to be so much fun. Meaningful November football. Is the best.