This is The Drive with Josh Graham Podcast.
We're internet sensations, guys! Tune into The Drive weekday afternoons 3 to 7 on WSJS. You are on Monday Drive. It is WSJS News Talk Sports for the Triad where it is a Carolina Panthers game day. The home opener just hours away against the New Orleans Saints and we are broadcasting live from the Queen City. Getting into the matchup though, now that the NFL season is 18 weeks long, it doesn't really feel right to say that any game in September is a must-win game. My definition of a must-win game is you've got to win this game in order to achieve your goals and if you are trying to achieve the goal of making the playoffs, you better win this game or else you're not going to do that.
So it doesn't feel right to say that here in week two. However, if there ever was a must-win game in week two, it would be Panthers-Saints tonight because here's the reality. If they lose, the entire division south will be 2-0 except the Carolina Panthers. Carolina will be 0-2 and not only will they be 0-2, both the losses they have will be against division opponents. And when you get into tiebreakers and division play, the first tiebreaker is often division record. What's your record in the division?
You only get six of them a year. Carolina would, if they lost tonight, start 0-2 overall and 0-2 in the division. A lot of the hope that Panther fans had this year, Carolina could be a playoff team in Frank Reich's first year, Bryce Young, his rookie year, stemmed from the division being bad.
That was the hope. Carolina can make the playoffs this year because the NFC South is just that bad. How do you recalibrate things if the division actually isn't very bad? Right now, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-0, the Atlanta Falcons are 2-0 against a good Atlanta, a good Green Bay team. They won last night or yesterday afternoon on a kick. And if the Saints start 2-0-2, you're going to have to track them down in order to win the division. And that's going to be difficult given the stretch that Carolina has to open up here. They're going to have a greater disadvantage next week than they have tonight. After Monday Night Football at home, Carolina has a short week at Seattle. I can't think of a worse opponent for Carolina to play. San Francisco, probably the worst possible one they could play. I can't think of a worse one.
Oh, there's one. Yeah, that one would be worse than playing Seattle, I suppose, just because of how good the 49ers are. But after San Francisco, this might be the worst possible game for Carolina to have after Monday Night Football. Because you have a rookie quarterback dealing with a short prep week for the first time. And that short prep week is compounded by the fact you have to travel on the road that next week. And not only do you have to travel on the road, you have to go to the West Coast and deal with perhaps the most unwelcoming environment there is in the NFL.
One of the most hostile places to play out in Seattle. That's a really tall order for a rookie quarterback and for a team coming off Monday night, going on the road playing a team that made the playoffs last year and just got done winning on the road in Detroit in overtime yesterday. The odds of getting into the playoffs would be slim. Will be slim if Carolina loses tonight for the obvious divisional purposes. But if you want to talk about the wildcard, too, 31 of the 270 teams that started 0-2 between 1990 and last season have made the playoffs. 31 of 270.
That's about 11 percent. There's my East Carolina education at work. So maybe tonight, if Carolina loses, expectations will reset. Maybe that will allow for expectations to reset and no longer the conversations about making the playoffs, but instead setting a foundation for a new coaching staff. Getting the new rookie quarterback familiar and seeing what you have with him. That's that being far more important than focusing on being in the playoffs in the first year of Bryce and in the first year of Frank Reich. There really is a lot on the line tonight.
Frank Reich, he even emphasized that over the weekend, speaking about the urgency of Panther Saints at 7 o'clock. Yeah, it's a big deal, right? I mean, you start off two division games, you know, obviously that week one slip away, so heightens it even more.
It's our home opener, right? So, you know, you've got to protect your home turf. There's a lot at stake. You know, it's one game and the way to go about it is do the little things right. Have the details, get those things right.
Take care of business in that way. We'll get to our picks for this a little bit later on. Will Pelagic will be in studio with us later this hour. David Glenn, also a guest on today's show. On Twitter, at WSJS Radio, that's where you can chime in on the show. That's also where we're streaming video in addition to YouTube and Twitch.
Will Dalton, the executive producer of the show. W.D., as our show's resident Tar Heel fan, how much did you enjoy being in the building for Saturday's win? Oh, it was a blast. I mean, I got there a couple hours before kick, and honestly, I spent all two hours before kick on the field. Like, I was just on the field, hanging out, getting footage, down there when the team came out, and they got the win. They look good on the run. They look good on the pass.
The defense looks good, so we shall see. Being an ECU grad in Boom wasn't nearly as fun as that, but let's keep it with your heels. At 3-0, it's time to take Carolina football seriously. It's time to take these Tar Heels seriously as an ACC title contender this year, maybe even as a college football playoff dark horse, especially when you look at how light things looked over the weekend for teams in the top 10. Drake May hasn't had to carry North Carolina.
That is the biggest difference between the 20-23 Tar Heels and last year's Tar Heels. Drake May is not carrying Carolina. The Tar Heels last year were 2-3 in the five games that Drake May against FBS opponents did not throw for 300 yards.
2-3. Carolina was 2-3 in games last year where Drake May had a single interception, let alone multiple interceptions. Drake May had two picks on Saturday. In three games, he's had multiple picks.
Twice. Carolina won all the games. In two out of the three first games, Drake May did not eclipse 300 yards passing. Carolina is still 3-0. They are 3-0 even though Drake May has not looked like the Drake May we saw from last year.
And many of the weaknesses we saw from a year ago have become strengths for Carolina. They are playing defense. They are running the ball.
Think about this. A Big Ten team, Big Ten teams, the style of play, we know it, it's physical. A physical brand of football. A Big Ten team came into Chapel Hill and was pushed around.
A 2-0 one. A good coach, a good program in Minnesota was pushed around, held to 13 points, couldn't really run it at all. Carolina won the game 31-13. Carolina, over 100 yards rushing again. The root of this, or the common thread between running the football and the way Carolina's played defensively, nine sacks in the first game, key plays at the end of the Yap State game, and certainly very good against Minnesota, is physicality.
That is the common thread between the two. That's something that Carolina lacked a year ago and Mac Brown talked about it when Phil Longo departed. This team plays with physicality. This team is tough.
Not just mentally, but physically. They are more mature so they can win close games like the game against App and not make the key mistakes late. But I'm talking about the physical side of it, something that Carolina's lacked up until now since Mac Brown returned to Chapel Hill. And give them credit, this has been a difficult opening stretch.
We spent all offseason talking about how tough the schedule was. North Carolina is one of four teams in the country that have two non-conference power five wins so far. And these aren't scrubs that they're beating. South Carolina, they gave Georgia a lot of problems in Athens over the weekend. North Carolina handled them by two touchdowns on a neutral field. And Minnesota, 2-0. From the Big Ten, these aren't slouches.
App State's not a slouch. They're not playing the FCS team so far. These are good wins that they have. And when you look at the schedule the rest of the way, their six point favorites this week against Pittsburgh, they're going to be favored in every single game until the second to last game of the year at Clemson. It's time to start taking Carolina football seriously. It's time to start talking about this team as an ACC contender. Because speaking of Clemson, obviously they're vulnerable after losing at Duke. If you follow recruiting closely, Florida State's not that, they're not supremely talented compared to North Carolina. The talent gap is not large between the Seminoles and the Tar Heels. So they're gettable, especially in a championship game in Charlotte where there will be more Carolina fans there than Florida State fans, if that is in fact the matchup. And if you win the ACC, who's to say you can't make the playoff this year as the SEC looks the way that it does?
It's time to start having that conversation. Yes, they're ranked 17th. That's still a long ways away from being in the top five. But given how the schedule looks the rest of the way and how Carolina has started the year and the way that they're winning, they're a playoff darkwares.
They are a team that should be taken seriously, not just as an ACC contender, but a national contender as well. There are a lot of so-called sports talk guys who don't do anything but flap their gums. Yeah, exactly. But not Josh Graham.
He doesn't even like gum or flapping for that matter. You're so talented. You're on the drive with Josh Graham. Back in Charlotte with the Voice of Charlotte FC Will Pelagic hanging out with us.
Willy P, it's Panthers Saints three hours, 15 minutes from now. To me, on-field matchups matter more than home field. It's funny.
Making some friends. Even more than the vibe in the fan base does. Because if you ask the fan base right now, you'd think that the Panthers are going 0-17.
That's the way that they feel. Is that going to show in the stands? I hope it doesn't. I hope that it's the home opener. It's the first time on the night football has been here since 18. I was trying to think back myself. I hadn't been to many Monday Night Football games myself just in person. I think the last time I went was when I was in childhood, still living in DC.
It's a rare, rare experience. Monday Night Football used to mean something. I think it still does. I think every eye is going to be on us, at least for the first hour. Then the second hour, maybe they'll turn to the other game depending on how it looks. The fact of the matter remains is that it's a big, big deal that Monday Night Football is here in the city of Charlotte.
I just hope that the fan base is out there and they're in full force. If memory serves, the last time Monday Night Football was here was 2018 when Cam Newton's arm had deteriorated where he couldn't throw it past 15 yards at that point. Dante Jackson ran back, not a pick six, but a pick two. It was a two-point play, 12-7. The one touchdown the Panthers had was Christian McCaffrey throwing a pass. It was an ugly game.
Very ugly game. If Carolina wants to win the night, 12-9. If Carolina wants to win the night, that's what I think it kind of has to be. Not exactly that, but an uglier football game lends itself to Carolina having a better shot. I will say 20-14 Panthers.
Ooh. A little more points. I think the DJ Chark effect will be something that's tangible in the contest. I don't think Bryce completely airs it out. I do feel like, too, there's a scenario with this team that is feeling kind of like it is still a part of the preseason. I was having this conversation with my dad about just how each of these teams, regardless of the formula, doesn't want to show anything during the preseason, obviously.
Doesn't want anybody to inherit. So it lends itself to that first month of the season feeling like it is an extension of the preseason. The unfortunate part for the Panthers is that their first two contests have looked like almost feeling like they are the biggest part of their season because of the fact that they are against divisional opponents. And the rest of the division's winning. That's the other part of it, is the fact that, you know, who thought that the Buccaneers and the Falcons would be 2-0 after two weeks of play given the schedule that they had? And also just the form of the Buccaneers. I can't figure out what's going on with Tampa Bay, why that looks the way it does. Do you buy a must-win game in week two?
No. I don't feel like it is. I think I understand why people say those things because of the fact that you have, again, the reasons we all talked about, the division winning, etc., and so on. You don't want to be two games back, but it's week two. I mean, think about how the Panthers started, you know, 1-4, 1-5, and they were within the game of playing for the division crown on Christmas Eve. Jacksonville started 2-6 last year. Detroit started 1-6, and those were teams in contention at the end. So that's well put and something important to bring up at the beginning of this conversation or before the game starts. I think New Orleans wins because, again, matchups matter more than what's happening on the field, and the point I was going to make with Vegas is that if you've noticed there are more road favorites than usual than you've seen in past years. Vegas folks tell me that home field no longer accounts for three points. Like, the understanding we've had our entire lives is, oh, home team minus three if it's close.
They now say it's about a point and a half. That's what some of the Vegas folks now say. Well, I think a lot of it, too, is that a lot of these environments are incredibly sterile.
Like, that's the part of it that I feel like is the untold part of this. I'm not trying to pick on Carolina, but a lot of these environments, a lot of these fan bases travel well. I know that help buddies I know were up at the Optimist Hall earlier today, and they saw a bunch of black and gold. Going to be some who dat chants tonight? A lot of that, and we know that there are some fan bases who have made Carolina a second home. Steelers, for some reason Niners and Vikings over the last couple of years, too, randomly. Can I tell you a story related to that that you'll laugh at?
I'm ready. Okay, so growing up, I was like an emotionally attached Panther fan. Like, since working in the media, it kind of zaps you out of that.
I have a very similar type of experience with that. So I was like 10. No, it was my 12th birthday. I was turning 12, and the Panthers opened up with the New Orleans Saints. It was right after Katrina.
Oh, yeah. You had the magazine saying the Panthers are going to be Super Bowl contenders, and the Saints were going to be the worst team in the NFC South, and they turned out only to win two games. I had some Saints fans behind me. They're doing the who dat thing the entire game.
Aaron Brooks led a drive for a game-winning field goal by John Carney at the last second, and the fact that I was 12 may or may not have cried in the stands. Oh, gosh. And the Saints fans, trying to cheer me up, said, here's some stickers, and they were Saints stickers.
Oh. Not great. You got pity stickers? I got pity stickers, Saints stickers, after the Saints went on that kick. Pity stickers would be a great emo or ska band. Whoa!
Pity stickers. Whoa! That does sound like a great ska band name. Excellent.
Or emo. Yeah, you're right. See? Coming up next on the stage, the pity stickers.
Whoa! Hey, guys. We're pity stickers, you know. We just come out here. We jam, man. We just play some tunes, man. Definitely all wear black. They only wear black on stage. I got my black nail polish. We got to run this idea by Darin Vaught.
See what he thinks about this. That's right. The pity stickers. Darin Vaught would be the lead singer of the pity stickers.
Or at least the lead roadie. Carolina. Oh, getting back to the football. Carolina, they're going to miss J.C. Horn tonight.
Yeah. Derek Carr, he went for 300-plus last week at an ugly game where nothing was really working offensively for either team. I don't think 400 yards is out of the question tonight for Derek Carr. I think Derek Carr is more reliable than Bryce Young from an interceptions perspective when the Saints picked off Tannehill three times last week, and Bryce Young had two picks.
We'll see what that looks like. And then the Saints defense. I think they should feast up front with Demario Davis with Cam Jordan, who's been a Panther killer given what Carolina is struggling with up front. So I like New Orleans 26, Carolina 17.
That's what I have. I'm wondering how Bryce Young uses his feet more in this contest. I know that he used him a little bit in that final preseason game and a little bit against Atlanta.
I'm wondering if maybe he if he sees an opening, takes it a little bit more in this particular confine just because of the fact that you are dealing with still a developing passing attack right now. Then you got the second Monday night game, whoop logic in here, by the way, from Charlotte FC. You call this the Charlotte FC on WSJS. It's Steelers Browns. I love the fact that they're staggering this.
It's smart. Like you already have the properties on ESPN and ABC. So why push another game at ten thirty where nobody can watch it? All the eyeballs. You're still getting all the eyeballs. Stagger it like it works with March Madness.
Everybody has multiple screens now and you can work it out. I love this idea a lot better than us having to stay up for a ten thirty game. The ten o'clock game always involved the West Coast team that you didn't want to see. Like the Raiders, Raiders Broncos. Fire it up. We got Booger McFarland on the call.
Let's go. The old school Raiders at least. You didn't want to see at least. Jamarcus Russell. Steelers Browns.
Who do you like in this one? I think Cleveland. Only because of the fact that I do feel like, you know, I like the quarterback scenario a little bit better there. I know that Watson hasn't played well, but I think that could be a scenario for them.
They look good. But I also feel like Pittsburgh kind of feels a little bit embarrassed about the way they showed out in week one too. I think they'll have something to prove as well. But if pressed, give me Cleveland. Home divisional dogs have covered 70 percent of the time or make it 89 percent of the time with outright wins 70 percent of the time since 2009. One of the picks that we have we gave out this week is Steelers plus two tonight against Cleveland. I like Pittsburgh to bounce back because of the overreaction to week one. However, my NFL picks were great last week 3-0 due to water yesterday 1-2.
Good. So I'm just saying take that with a grain of salt if we get if we I think we'll still go 5-3. So we're fading Graham now. No, no, don't fade Graham. Trust the process.
Hashtag trust the process. We'll be 5-3 this week if the Steelers come home and we'll be 3-4 games over 500. Four games over 500 through three weeks. Not bad. We're doing well.
Last year we were at 60 percent. By the way, it's for free. They're for free. That's true. You're paying nothing.
Send me that cash out. What is W.D. watching this week? Do we know if he's watching this week? Yes. Because of Sean Clark, he's watching Beverly Hills Cop this week. That's right.
I was told something about a banana in a tailpipe. I don't know what that means, but yeah. Beverly Hills Cop is his movie for next week. Boone suggested something to me on the field Saturday in Boone.
I'm trying to remember what it was. The word is spreading. People are always suggesting movies to me now.
The one I would have suggested was Chef, which you had talked about earlier. We did. Darren Vaught's big on this one. It's a really good movie.
I watched it. There's an inside joke between me and former WFNC personality Nick Wilson about that. You have to ask him about that if you get the opportunity. He likes food. And he likes food movies.
He does. Food movies are great. Ratatouille, probably the best example of that.
Jon Favreau is in that. Have you seen Ratatouille? No.
I have not. Nope. Willy P, what are we going to do? I don't know.
I appreciate you being here. He's a rat, is what it is. Yeah. I know that. We don't like rats. I've seen the previews for it.
I've just never watched it. Not at the Fredo, but you know. Get him out of here. Willy P, we'll get you out of here. And we'll talk to you. We'll listen to you on Charlotte FC. And we'll talk to you next week. This will serve as your weekly visit, so you don't have to see me. I won't talk to you on Friday? I'm going to be in Hilton Head Friday, W.D.
's host on the show. Oh, look at you. That's nice. Thanks for being here, buddy. Say hi to the crazy crowd for me.
I'll do that. You're on the drive with Josh Graham. WSJS. Mahal floats it up. Caught. Touchdown Travis Kelce. Kelce finds a blank space for the score. Iron Eagle, our guy, W.D. 's guys, specifically, with the call of Travis Kelce's touchdown. Returning to the lineup. Returning to the end zone.
W.D. needs more thinking man. Yeah. And the context there is blank space is a Taylor Swift song.
Think of blank space in the end zone. Nobody's better at weaving pop culture references into a play-by-play call than Iron Eagle is. What he does.
Very up with the culture. Iron Eagle. And we appreciate him for that, but is that a better touchdown call than Saturday night where minutes after Lil Wayne was rapping, coming onto the field with the Colorado Buffaloes. After Ralphie had ran on the field the whole deal, a great pregame scene in Boulder, Shiloh Sanders, Deion Sanders' son, gets a pick six and Mark Jones caps the call with a Lil Wayne referent. So what's a better call, that or blank space in the end zone for Travis Kelce, the Taylor Swift referent? I mean, listen, as much regard as I have for one Iron Eagle, because he is very proud of me these days.
He is. I really like that Lil Wayne reference, man. That thing just hits. Which leads us to the reason why the internet was incensed with me over the weekend. All I did was ask a question.
That's true. That's all you did. You didn't put a flag in the ground. You didn't make a take.
You asked. The question was Lil Wayne brought the team out onto the field, lit. Lil Wayne is now 40 years old. Lil Wayne was at his peak when I was in high school.
I am now 30 years old. So my question was, you bring out Lil Wayne in Colorado because you want all the recruits to see Lil Wayne out there. Does Lil Wayne still have strong resonance with high school kids as he's bringing them out onto the field, or is that more for the parents?
That is the question that I asked. Now I happen to believe that Lil Wayne does not have the same resonance now as he did 15 years ago, because how could he? He was maybe the biggest act in America in 2008. Now he's 40. And really the root of those who were upset at me all Saturday night and into Sunday, the root of it was people that were born in the 90s or older than that not wanting to accept that the music that they loved when they were in high school is now dad music. It's now old.
That's what it is. And the example I brought was, in 2008, I was not listening to Hammer. I wasn't listening to Sir Mix-a-Lot. I wasn't really listening to even Nas at that point. I was exposed to Tribe Called Quest a little bit later on than that. To me, that would be dad music in 2008. It would have been music that was hot in 1992 or 1993. I probably wasn't listening to in 2008. So I doubt, I just strongly doubt, given how many options you have nowadays and how SoundCloud and TikTok and others have opened the doors for young artists or for young people to reach artists in a way that we didn't even have in 2008, I just can't believe that Lil Wayne is one of the hot names to bring out there where high school recruits are saying, whoa, you brought Lil Toonchi out?
I don't think... I think that was something we appreciated a lot more than the high school recruits did. And I think some people just need to accept that the music that you love... And I was a huge Lil Wayne fan. The Carter III is my favorite hip hop album ever.
I am the intended audience for that. I thought it was awesome. It was, to use WD's word, lit, but I don't think high school kids thought it was as cool as we all did. That's my, that's my point.
WD disagrees. I do. I mean, I think it resonates with us, but I also, I think it resonates with the recruits. Sixteen-year-olds?
Yes, I do. Now, does it resonate the same way with them currently as Wayne did when he was in his prime with us when we were that age? No, because like he was in his prime. He's 40 now. It does matter.
He's a 40. It does matter. Because we have social media now, and so like we didn't have social media, so like they've got more access. You be careful. We did have social media. But not on this scale, not to this level. We had Myspace and we had Facebook. We had that.
Yeah, but like now we've got a bazillion different outlets and there's just more access to his stuff. Actually, I got on Facebook in 2009. Take that back.
Yeah, I think I did in like ten, I don't know. But I think it does resonate. I really do. No, I'm not saying it doesn't at all. I'm not saying they don't know who he is. I just don't think they're listening to his music. I don't think they're listening to his music. I really don't.
Because why would they? Again, but it's 15-year-old music to them. Some of them, you got to realize high schoolers today were born in 2006, 2007, 2008. A 15-year-old in high school was born the year lollipop came out. Yes.
You think they're listening to lollipop? I don't think so. Maybe not, but I still think, again, I still think Wayne's brand and just his, Wayne. What is his brand? Just his name recognition. Just because they're not listening, just maybe because they're not listening to his music per se, they still see that, oh, that's Wayne.
They brought Wayne out there. But it might be you hear the name and you don't know anything about Wayne. It's like maybe in 2008 when someone brought up Nas to me. I know who Nas is. Okay. Nas is a rapper.
Okay. Name a Nas song. In 2008, I probably wouldn't be able to name a Nas song.
But there again, now we've got social media. We can go see it. But I bet you the 2023 Lil Wayne. I know that's Lil Wayne, but if you asked me to name a song, I don't know if I'm going to be able to rattle off Stuntin' Like My Daddy or Millie or any of those hits. I don't think so. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't resonate though. If you can't name a song? Yes. You don't have to be able to name a song to be like, oh, that's Lil Wayne.
They brought Wayne out there. Just saying. Some people need to have an honest conversation with themselves. This was healthy. This was a good conversation. You need to have an honest conversation with yourself and realize that the music you listened to when you were in high school, maybe even college, now dad music.
And Lil Wayne falls into the dad music category. This is a true story. If it wasn't for my wife, our next guest would not have been able to locate us on the field at App State, East Carolina, Saturday afternoon. It's David Glenn with us, whose show is now on the North Carolina Sports Network's podcast and YouTube channels, plus at NC Sports Network dot com. Thanks to my wife, DG. I'm glad we were able to connect on Saturday. Amen to that, Josh.
For those who haven't yet put it together, you know, Kid Brewer Stadium is a pretty big place that was in the process of tying its all-time record for its largest crowd ever. I'm in the press box way up high and Josh had told me he was on the field. And as I'm on my way down, you know, people look like ants down there.
It's just very hard to see. So my logic was, I'm just going to look for the tall, beautiful blonde woman and guess that that's probably Josh's lovely wife. And that'll help me find Josh. So and it worked. So it's great to see both of you. Excellent strategy on your part.
We're about 90 minutes away from kickoff of Panthers-Saints. We'll get to that in a bit. Now that I've seen a handful of games in every FBS stadium in our state, I feel comfortable saying The Rock is the best place in terms of atmosphere, game day management like foot traffic, car traffic management, stadium locale, of course, that that is the best place in our state to catch a college football game or a football game of any kind. Would you place it that high?
It all depends on the parameters. My starting point would be, yes, I love going to app. I love all the things that you just described. Their crowds don't ebb and flow too much, mainly because they're almost never mediocre, right? Whether it was dominating FCS or cranking out top 10, you know, 10 or more win seasons at the FBS level, not every year, but as a member of the Sunbelt, there's a lot to love and that high energy level in that beautiful mountain setting are more layers to love. One tricky thing is for those contemplating a bucket list item, perhaps going where Josh and I just work plan ahead, because whereas if you go to a state or Carolina game, your options for restaurants in the triangle, your options for hotels in the triangle, you got a lot of options in Boone.
You better plan ahead, both with your reservations and your hotels. That's one of the only downsides, but in terms of what you described, the game itself atmosphere, it's as consistently good as any other college venue in our state. I agree with that. While you and I in the middle of the afternoon Saturday were watching App State beat East Carolina by 15, North Carolina handled Minnesota 31 to 13. They're now 3-0, DG. How seriously should we be taking the Tar Heels now? Is it ACC title contender? Is that too far? Is college football playoff dark horse in play?
My guess is probably not for those, for the latter. But the fun part is, you know, the Tar Heels have won in three different ways, really. They were led primarily by their defense in beating South Carolina, right?
Nine sacks driving Spencer Rattler, the Gamecocks talented quarterback crazy was their most sacks in almost a quarter of a century at UNC. And you know, I'd say this past weekend, the biggest difference between the two teams was the quarterbacks. I mean, Minnesota could run the ball, Minnesota could match the Tar Heels in the trenches on both sides of the ball. But when Minnesota asked its quarterback to make plays, they just didn't get squat. Whereas when the Tar Heels asked Drake May to make plays, you know, they usually did. And in between, you know, the Tar Heels won with their running game with Amari and Hampton just running wild. So that's three different roads to victory.
And that impresses me. And in a year where we've already seen Clemson show some vulnerability with that loss at Duke, I wouldn't say a trip to the ACC title game is out of the question for Carolina. They just need to stay healthy.
They would need to win their close games. And they need that defense to be a little bit better than it was in that middle game against that state. I love that you brought up the running game and the defense because both those things have been strengths for the Tar Heels through three games when it wasn't before. And I think the fact that you have a Big Ten team coming in and Big Ten, their brand of football has always been, let's try to rough you up and win with physicality. The central common thread between running the football and playing the way the Tar Heels have defensively, you noting what they did up front in the opener against South Carolina, is physicality. Carolina was seen to be soft in many ways a year ago, and Mac Brown even said it when Phil Longo departed. With Chip Lindsey here, it seems like there's a physicality with this Tar Heel team that we haven't seen before.
And that means that North Carolina's winning games, even as Drake May is turning over the ball, multiple turnovers, multiple interceptions in two of the three games, and he hasn't thrown for 300 yards, but in just one game, which was this past weekend. Yeah, there were times that Mac Brown and Phil Longo would kind of snipe at each other a little bit or snarl at each other on the sidelines. And it usually stemmed from, you know, not a personality class as much as Mac came to believe that even when opposing defenses were daring the Tar Heels to run the ball, Phil Longo's instinct was to call another passing play for Drake May. And he thought that hurt the Tar Heels chances of winning. He thought that put Drake May in jeopardy physically far too often. And I think it ended up, Josh, you and I have been around college football long enough to know offensive assistant coaches don't typically leave a team that has the greatest NFL quarterback prospect in school history heading into his final year on campus.
That just violates every logic possible. Well, Phil Longo did leave, and it was in part because of those just philosophical differences he and Mac Brown had. I'm not sure the Heels would have beaten App State if it was the Phil Longo way.
But Chip Lindsey, you know, kind of from that Gus Malzahn coaching tree, believes more in run pass balance, believes more in taking a little of that pressure off of Drake May. And to the Tar Heels credit, whether you give it to Amarian Hampton, who was a fantastic young running back, or the offensive line imposing its will at times, not just against the Mountaineers, but occasionally even against the Gamecocks and the Gophers, that is a different type of toughness. And it has been central to that 3-0 Carolina start.
David Glenn with us here, North Carolina Sports Network, The David Glenn Show, you can find it on YouTube, you can find it wherever you get your podcasts, and plus the written variety NCSportsNetwork.com. Since we're here in Charlotte, right down the road from Bank of America Stadium, and this game's not far from kicking off, I'm not, you know me well enough to know, we're not generally the hot take type of show that we do here, and you are hearing some overreact to weeks one and weeks two in a 17 game season, this season is more like a marathon than it is a sprint, however, when you look at a short week ahead of the Panthers going to Seattle, one of the more difficult places to play, and the travel of going on the West Coast after playing a Monday night game, and the fact the rest of the NFC South will have started 2-0 if the Panthers were to lose tonight, on top of that, both losses Carolina would have would be two division opponents, would you, is this as close to a must-win game as you've ever seen in week two of an NFL season? That sounds like a good way to put it, because it does feel like it's crazy to say must-win in week two, and it probably is, right? I think in part because my expectations for the Panthers have been relatively low for this season, as much as I admire and respect Bryce Young, you know, the reality is there have been 29 quarterbacks selected with the number one overall pick since I was born in 1967, and exactly one of those 29 quarterbacks has won more games than he lost in that first year as a starter, and that was Andrew Luck taking the Colts to the playoffs, that's it, one example out of 29, so it was going to be an uphill battle for, in my eyes, whether the Panthers started 2-0, 1-1 or 0-2, but because of the dynamics that you described, I didn't think going in there'd be a great team in the NFC South, and maybe there still won't be, we'll see, but if it came down to tiebreakers, obviously, you can't be digging out of a hole by losing at home to the New Orleans Saints when you've already lost on the road to the Atlanta Falcons, so I guess that's a long way of saying, yeah, it feels important, but I just, I go back to my original thoughts about this team, I don't think they have enough offensively to be a playoff team, and if they were going to be a playoff team, it was going to have to be because the division proved to be mediocre, we'll see if it shakes out that way, again, it's still early, but the Panthers are going to be measuring their progress week by week, they've already suffered a couple of key injuries, and I think from a fan standpoint, you just have to hope for progress, mainly from Bryce Young, but really from the entire team in year one under Frank Reich. You just hit on that piece, that I think if they lose tonight, it might be a positive in this sense, being able to reframe realistic expectations for this year when you talk about a first-year coach and a first-year quarterback, because I go back to 2011 when it was Ron Rivera's first year and Cam Newton's first year, and even though Carolina went 6-10 that year and didn't make the playoffs, many viewed that year to be a success, and there'd be a lot of excitement because you knew you had something in the quarterback. I think the progress that you're talking about, that that should be what this season is about, so while I do think it's an apt comparison in that case, one area that I don't know if it connects well is the fact that Cam Newton had Jordan Gross at left tackle protecting him, who's a proven commodity there, and Ryan Kalil at center, and Greg Olsen to throw the ball to, and Steve Smith to throw the ball to. I don't know who that proven tackle or offensive lineman really is for the Panthers short of maybe Taylor Moten, and I don't know who that is catching the ball for Bryce Young either, so maybe expectations should be managed even further than what we saw in 2011.
I'm just thinking out loud though. I think you're right, and let's see the Carolina Panthers defense try to take hold of this game. When you need your quarterback to have some time to just grow up a little bit and gain more experience, you and I remember Cam coming out of the gates with some 400-yard passing performance. First game.
Right? And obviously, his athleticism was never in question, so those were two bright spots that even though, as you said, the record was ugly in year one, there were reasons to hope. In this particular case, I think this team has a chance to be a pretty good defense, and I share your concerns about the offense even after or even before injuries. The offensive line was not great, but your best receiver may be a 33-year-old in Adam Phelan. You have a nice running back in Miles Sanders and others, but I don't know if you have a great running back the way Christian McCaffrey was, so if you need time for your quarterback, you don't really have a number one superstar wide receiver, you don't really have a number one superstar running back, and you don't have a dominating offensive line, well, it's hard to ask Frank Wright to have consistently strong offenses this season, in my opinion, for personnel reasons. The guy led the Eagles to the Super Bowl title as their offensive coordinator. It's not like he doesn't know how to connect the dots when he has enough talent on hand. When he had Andrew Lucky with the Colts, right, he had really good seasons and playoff appearances.
This is middling offensive talent, but I think it's better than middling defensive talent, so maybe tonight against the Saints and otherwise, the defense can lead the way while Bryce Young and that offense are growing up. David Glenn, thanks so much for doing this. I hope to see you sometime soon at a game. Can't wait to follow your coverage, ncsportsnetwork.com, all things ACC and state of North Carolina, and of course, The David Glenn Show, which is on the NC Sports Network's feeds on YouTube and podcasts. Thanks for doing this. Thanks, man. Just posted today, the Panthers all-time record on Monday Night Football, which I was surprised to learn is a winning record, so folks can check that out. Yeah, perfect. As we're getting ready, you have about an hour and change until things kick off. See you later, D.G. Thanks, bud.
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