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The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham
The Truth Network Radio
October 20, 2023 10:04 pm

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The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham

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October 20, 2023 10:04 pm

Daron Vaught of USA Baseball and the ACC Baseball Etc. Podcast, fills in for Josh and is joined by Roddy Jones, of ESPN, to tell whether or not Duke can beat Florida State without Riley Leonard, NC State baseball head coach, Elliott Avent to discuss Trea Turner's impact on the Phillies and hanging out with Bryce Harper, and 2-time Emmy winner, Reggie Walker, to get us set for Ohio State-Penn State and a massive college football weekend.

Amy Lawrence Show
Amy Lawrence

Yes, Josh Graham has opinions. There is nothing that entertains the audience and the masses more than me being bothered. And yes, he's got attitude. Really, none of the game made sense to me. And that's exactly why you love him.

When this all gets sorted out, I think you and me should get an apartment together. You're on The Drive with Josh Graham. Yeah, it's The Drive. No, it's not Josh Graham.

Darren Vaught in for Josh today. See if I remember how to do this. It's been a while. Let's take a crack at it. It's been a while. We'll give it a whirl.

Give it a whirl. Happy to be here. Will Dalton is on the other side of the glass. He's on the ones and twos.

What's up? In the know over here, refer to him as W.D. now, which I struggle with because... In turn, Will. Well, but also just Will, right?

Nicknames are supposed to, in most cases, conventionally, they abbreviate things. Uh-huh. W.D. is way more difficult to say than Will. Yeah, if you said, well, see, Josh, W.D. W.D. It's still more syllables, right? Even if we do the W. Right.

It's still a lot. I struggle with it. Your Will. It's fine. It's fine. It works.

It works. You know who it is. Me. I know who it is.

I know who it is. And I listen on the occasion, and I get the feeling that for the past couple of weeks, Josh has been just like in a bad mood versus baseball. Thank God we're getting to this.

I'm so happy you're here. Let it rip, Darren. He's just been a negative Nancy when it comes to baseball's postseason, and I don't love it. The format.

Yeah, all right, okay. So, like, I did my usual spot in here for just a segment last week, and his 100-win Baltimore Orioles got knocked out of the postseason, and all of a sudden, he's got an issue with the format. And all of a sudden, he doesn't think the good teams are rewarded enough.

And I just had to check him on it, right? You just had to check him on it, because this is what baseball does. This is what the MLB postseason is. Rarely does the far and away best team, or do any of the far and away best teams, throughout MLB's regular season, rarely do they come away with the ultimate prize. And we see these sorts of upsets. That said, I'm loving what's going on right now. It looks like we're on a collision course to get the Texas Rangers of all teams in the AL and the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series.

Now, things happen. Those series, one or the other or both, could turn. We get the continuation of both tonight. We get two playoff games tonight, two tomorrow night.

Very excited about that. But I think we gotta have the Phillies. Rangers are, meh.

I could take or leave them. They're fun. They're really fun at this point. And it's been a great job for them to pick up some star players and really build this team from the ground up. But in addition to that, they've got some younger stars impacting it as well.

That is kind of like the perfect formula, right? Max Scherzer didn't have much fun last night, though. No. Their future Hall of Famer starting pitcher did not have much fun or a great contribution to the game last night. But that's OK. Mm hmm.

Well, parody. But Josh Young, their rookie second baseman, formerly of Texas Tech, I called his games for Team USA. Did you really? You probably called a lot of these games. We're getting to the point where, like I've been with Team USA for almost a decade now. I see a lot of the guys that I covered at that level breaking into the bigs. Right.

It's just fun. Like Adlai Rutchman's obviously one of those from not that long ago. And some guys, even some ACC guys that I've covered. Elliott Avent's going to join us and talk baseball a little bit later. So I'm going to mention to him, you know, he coached Trey Turner. Oh, he's killing it. Who's having an unbelievable postseason following up that World Baseball classic performance of his. Bad start to the season, but he's he's figured it out.

He's turned it around for the Phillies. I want to see I want to see Philadelphia. And they look, they went back to Arizona.

They're in the desert tonight. It's a five oh seven first pitch. It's one of those weird playoff times. TBS, Brian Anderson, Jeff Francore and company have the call on that one tonight.

It's the first of the two playoff games. Phillies are up 2 0 in the series. I just want them to win it in Philadelphia so they can sing the song. Well, just because the scene I have in Philadelphia.

They're unbelievable, man. I want that for Phillies fans so badly. And also, if it's not the C.S., they'll get another crack at it with the World Series if they. Finish off the Diamondbacks and the series there, but.

I want them to win every possible series, every possible game in Philadelphia, because it is so fun. They put on a show. It's they're all possessed, too. They're just like 12 consecutive solo home runs. They don't even care if people are on base.

They're locked in. Swarber the other day. Swarber, Kyle Swarber. I don't know if he's a Hall of Famer like that might be a fun conversation for a little bit later in the show. We'll pull up his baseball reference and we can we can talk through it.

But Kyle Swarber tied Reggie Jackson for the most career postseason home runs by a left handed hitter. Like. Do you know how insane that said that is not a small deal, Mr. October is what we're talking about, Mr. October, and you tie that. We gave him a nickname.

We we basically called him Mr. Playoffs. Yeah. And Kyle Swarber has matched a mark, a very important one of Reggie Jackson's in the postseason. They're just they're fun, man.

They're so fun. See, I don't know what Josh is complaining about. Well, I mean, he's he's got yeah, I do. He's got sour grapes.

I don't know. I don't want to overlook the fact that, you know, these are the Phillies. They're a division rival of if we could break down the listening audience. What's the percentage of them that are Braves fans? It's a it's a larger percentage than most Yankees are probably up there, too. Red Sox are probably up there, too. But the Phillies are a big rival to the Braves.

They are. So I don't want to dismiss that. You know, he might not be the only one who's not all in on the Phillies are all in on postseason baseball right now. But I hope we I hope we get the Phillies in the World Series. That's it's really the only requirement I have, because to me, the Rangers are fun and the Astros would also be fun to get the rematch. That's right.

Philadelphia sort of. I didn't put that on their shoulder in that series. I didn't put that together. That'd be fun for me to just Phillies.

That's all you need. You can tell I haven't done this in a while because it's already time for me to take a break. And I had a note here that I wanted to get into Bryce Harper specifically during that segment.

That's obviously going to happen later. Don't feel bad. I do it all. I do it, too. And I feel like we're just going to move puzzle pieces around as I fill in for Josh Graham on the drive here. And we're going to be joined by our friend Roddy Jones of ESPN, college football analyst for them in the network series XM as well on the other side. Because, yes, I know we got to talk football. I don't mind that. I just you know, when I'm in, it's going to begin and it's going to end with baseball talk, especially in the postseason.

Got that right. The Roddy Jones will join us on the other side. This is the drive. I am not Josh Graham. Roddy Jones, when we come back. We're fine. Everything is fine. Let's reset some stuff before we get back to Roddy Jones of ESPN is kind enough to join us.

I'm Darren Bott, not Josh Graham. Happy to be in his stead, but bear with me. It's been a while.

So I tried to cut to a break when it was what is referred to as a hard out in the business. We got Roddy set up a little little tardy, but that's OK. Our pets heads are falling off. I almost spilled my snacks. I feel like I'm like in radio again. Will, I brought I brought snacks back just chaos studio.

I don't know. We're fine. We don't we don't panic.

We manage here on the drive. And Roddy Jones sat through the break and is going to rap with us a little bit more about college football. He's nice enough to do that as he joins us from a hotel in Huntington, West Virginia.

He'll be on Thursday Night Football tonight. I don't have you, Roddy. You switched your audio situation and now we don't have you. Boom. How's that?

There it is. We're making radio. I even have a microphone now and hopefully it sounds a little bit better. You sound great. You sound great. You sound great.

All right. So we talked to Penn State, Ohio State prior to the break, as I made you squeeze it in and our radio fashion while the music was sort of playing us out. Let's get to the biggest matchup in the ACC this weekend. Duke at Florida State. There's a chance we hear that Riley Leonard could could be the starting quarterback once more for the Duke Blue Devils. That is to be seen. What are your impressions of this matchup? Because like Duke. It's great if they have Leonard at quarterback.

I think between he and Belen, not that Leonard is not a difference maker, but I don't know if the way I think about it changes. At all. Are you are we on the same page there? Yeah, I definitely changes the way I think about it because we're not on the same page.

That's OK. No, no, I guess not. Like Henry Belen through what? Twelve passes last week. He completed four of them. We completed one of the other team and they didn't need to have him do much because that defense was going to be dominant. The run game got going.

So they were able to really roll without him having to be a big part of it. And now that they've had the bye week, the week leading up to NC State and the week leading up to Florida State for him to practice. Because I am of the camp and the belief that Riley Leonard's not going to play. This is not doubting Riley Leonard at all. But I've had a high ankle sprain and I've had multiple. I saw Riley Leonard walking on the sideline the way he was walking last Saturday is not someone with a high ankle sprain who's a week away from playing football. Yeah. Against one of the best defenses in the country.

It looks like a guy who's got a little bit more time ahead of him. So so I'm skeptical that he plays. It does change the way that Duke is going to operate this game. We saw what they did against NC State.

There wasn't tempo. They shortened the game by draining the clock. It's starting early on in the game and running the football. They're going to rely more on Jordan Waters. And I think that that that changes the the path to victory for Duke in this game for me because Florida State's defense is is good.

It's not great. It has not been the dominant unit that we thought that it could be at the beginning of this season. It's kind of been more like the unit that we saw last year that again was was really good, but it wasn't one of the best in the conference.

And it's and it's still not. So can you wear that group down and run the football on them? Well, Clemson did a pretty good job of running the football against that group. So the answer is maybe when you look at at Duke defensively against Florida State's offense, it's a Duke defense. It's been very good up front. Trey Freeman at linebacker in that line back and core has been tremendous. And then the secondary has forced teams to do it without creating a ton of big plays. Well, Florida State's an offense that I'm not so sure that they can do it consistently when you don't have to let them create big plays running the football. They have not been great this year consistently.

They got going a couple of games ago against Virginia Tech. But 80 something you had an 85 yard run from from from Trey Benson. You had a 60 something yard run from Trey Benson for a team that rushed for like 200 yards.

That was one hundred and forty of it. So so they've created explosives. We know what Keon Coleman can do. I do think this offense is good enough to beat Duke without creating those explosives, because I think they'll have a ton of bites at the apple because I just don't know that the Duke is going to do enough offensively to keep them off the field. But I don't think that window is closed without Riley Leonard. I just think the path to victory is different.

Yeah, that makes sense to me. Roddy Jones of ESPN is with us elsewhere in the ACC. How about the Clemson Tigers, who you you mentioned there is having some success with the run game against Florida State.

These guys are coming off of a bye week. Their two losses are to a Duke team that since that loss. We've come to discover is is a pretty good football team and then Florida State.

Right. And I think they've sort of just been like tucked away into the shadows of ACC football talk for the past couple of weeks, partially because they didn't play last week. But because once those two losses happen, it's kind of like, oh, well, Clemson, it's not Clemson and everybody else in the ACC. So it's not the Clemson that we are used to.

It's not this is not the same, same old, same old with the Tigers. This is a big opportunity, it seems like to me, Roddy, for Clemson to go to Miami, get a win. All of the sudden, that's what four wins in a row at that point. And or I guess NC State the next week would would be the four in a row. And then then you're starting to think, OK, these these are the Clemson Tigers, maybe of old. It's just that the competition around them atop the ACC has has upped its level as well. Like what's your read on on Clemson to this point? Clemson's in a really interesting spot because I think you can see a path for this Clemson team to end up as like a 10 and two team.

And you can see a path, especially if they drop this one this week, where they're like seven and five at the end of the year, which is is hard to talk about. But they've still got North Carolina later down the line. South Carolina has been a good team.

They've got another one in there that I can't remember off the top of my head that like looks like it's going to be pretty tough or could be pretty tough. So so when you when you talk about Clemson, this is a big one for them. And it is interesting because this is not the same Clemson team that we are accustomed to. But that is purely because of the offense that defense you could slot on any Clemson team the last decade.

It'd be like, yep, that's the Clemson defense right there. They've been phenomenal. They've got pros on every level of that defense. That defense, I believe, is like third in the country in yards per play allowed. At least they were going into last week. So so this is a defense that has been as good as just about any in the country when it comes to play in, play out basis.

How good they've been. Look at what they did against Florida State. The defense didn't cost them that game. Defense did miss a field goal at the end. Defense didn't allow, you know, didn't allow Florida State to have a game winning drive at the end. Defense held Florida State in regulation to what? 20 was 20 points. No, there was less than that because the because it went to you know, they obviously wanted an overtime.

Yeah. So Florida State struggled against this defense. That was that was really, really good. It wasn't until Nate Wiggins got hurt that they started to find the consistent success down the field against the younger corners. And even then, it wasn't like outright success. Keon Coleman catch was was sort of I don't know if it was completely against what had happened at that point.

But Jane Lucas still had great coverage. So this Clemson defense has been phenomenal. The question to me is offensively, can they get it going against Miami?

The answer is, I don't know. You know, Miami is really good up front. They're really good at linebacker. They tackle pretty well.

The thing that Miami is the where Miami is vulnerable, which Carolina is is is equipped to to be able to to exploit is in the secondary. I don't think their secondary is great, particularly when you can force when you can force James Williams into coverage. So if you have to keep two safeties back, James Williams is I mean, he's he's this is not a slight to him because I think he'll have a long NFL career at this position. But he's a linebacker at the next level.

He is Alec Ogletree. To me, guy who went to Georgia as a safety bulked up, moved down to Mike linebacker wasn't all pro like that James Williams. He is not a guy who's going to play deep half for that Miami defense consistently and successfully. But Clemson doesn't look like to have a guy to take advantage of that.

My North Carolina did. His name was Ted Walker. He was phenomenal in that game. But he was a difference maker. You know, he scored a touchdown on third and 20.

He had the long touchdown on the post route where he just toast the corner in the corners diving for the shadow of the football to try and knock it down. I don't know that Clemson has that guy to take advantage of it. So I think it's a low scoring game.

And it comes down to mistakes, which is not the type of game that Clemson has been good at winning this year. Yeah. Now, that makes a lot of sense. Notre Dame, by the way, probably the one that you had Notre Dame. Yep. That's the one.

That's November 4th. Clemson hosts Notre Dame. So again, this is a big one, but they got plenty of big ones coming up with with that North Carolina.

They'll they'll host them. And then the South Carolina game that you alluded to. I'm glad you mentioned North Carolina and Taz Walker because I got I got one more for you, Roddy. This is a team that's undefeated still.

North Carolina. And the insertion of Taz Walker, at least against Miami, seems to be a pretty big game changer for them. How much better does his presence make them?

It makes him a lot better. The one thing that was missing from this Carolina offense pre-Taz Walker was explosive plays. They were one of the worst teams in the conference at creating 20 plus yards plays. One of the worst teams, not one of the worst teams in the country, like they weren't in the in the hundreds, but they were bottom half of the country in terms of creating explosive plays pre-Taz Walker. Well, look at what's happened the last two weeks, particularly in the past game. You've had a guy who they had open against Syracuse a lot. And I think they realize just how open, how frequently he was even on routes where it looked like he shouldn't have been. He's just running a go route to clear out space while he runs right by the defender. Oh, OK. This guy is that level fast.

Let's start to look at that. Then in the Miami game, he might have been the best player on the field in that game, which is something, because Amari and Hampton was tremendous. Amari and Hampton was the best player on the field, actually. But Amari and Hampton was tremendous.

Drake May was was was really, really good. Wasn't quite as sharp as he always has been. That first half was good, not great.

And then the second half, he was much better. But but Taz Walker sort of fits into that upper tier of of North Carolina offensively and helps them create explosive plays. It's going to change the way teams have to defend them. You're going to play one high safety man a man everywhere else. There's no help for your corner on Taz Walker. So you've got to play more to high safety.

You've got to roll coverage more to his side. And that takes away resources that you could devote to stopping the run, a run game that has been fantastic with the offensive lines improvement. And the fact that Amari and Hampton's been the best running back in the ECC this year. It creates a dynamic where they have to play makers now on the one in the backfield, one outside that are guys that you have to game plan for. You have a quarterback that's the best quarterback in the league.

You've got a supporting cast that is among the best in the league with Nate McCollum and J.J. Jones and Kobe Paysore and British Brooks. Like it's an incredibly deep and versatile offense. Chip Lindsay's done a great job calling play. So I think it I think it makes North Carolina even more dangerous because the one thing they were missing was explosive plays. Now they can create explosive plays in boatloads, both because Taz Walker can create them and because coverage has to roll to Taz Walker. And you have to account for Taz Walker and coverage.

It can create them in the run game too. Yeah. Really well said. Smart football stuff from Roddy because I'm unable to provide that. Roddy, appreciate you, man. Have a good call tonight. Have fun with it there in West Virginia. And thanks for stopping by here on the drive.

Yeah. Thanks for having me there. Back with you on the drive. I'm feeling very nostalgic thinking about baseball. So that's a good track. Good choice. There will. I think Josh on this very show for the past couple of weeks has not been happy with the MLB postseason.

No question. Beginning with his Baltimore Orioles getting bounced. And he's got problems with the format. He's got issues with the teams in the markets that are still in it. All that stuff that generally at the end of the day, when you're sat down and you're watching baseball. And if you're in Joe Davis, call it on Fox or Brian Anderson and our friend Jeff Francore on TBS, as they will be tonight for the NL in Arizona. When you're sat down and you're watching the baseball.

Those are the things you don't care about. I, I, I believe anyway, and I granted I am a baseball person, so someone else who I know to be very much a baseball person. Even though most of the time when we talk, it's in the context of his NC State Wolfpack team and and ACC college baseball, I just like talking baseball with him. So, of course, we invited Elliot Avent to the program today.

Coach, good to hear your voice, man. How are you? Hey, Darren, I'm great. How are you doing? We're great here.

Rolling right along. Pumped to have not one, but two playoff baseball games each of the next two nights. I know that's something that fires you up as well. You're in the thick of things for fall ball with your Wolfpack team.

Also, let's start here. You coach to Trey Turner, who has just gone mad at the plate for Philadelphia this postseason. I know you're still close with him in talking and thinking about his journey.

Elliot, the ovation that he got sort of at at at a low point for him from from the fans in Philadelphia. It seems like since then, he's really sort of embraced the ride and hit a stride. I don't know that we've seen him hit.

And he's had some some incredible stints throughout his Major League Baseball career. Have you talked to him about that and what that meant to him? Yeah, I went to the game Thursday night and that was the night they clinched. So I got to see him after the game on the field. And then we went to a place where all the Phillies players go when they get big wins or something. And so we talked for a long, long time that I don't think I got into three o'clock in the morning.

I haven't done that for a long time, but I got to talk to him a lot. And, you know, he he really appreciated like when he went to Philadelphia, you know, I think Philadelphia fans is such a we were talking about the cities. That is like the hurricanes that kind of put in to stay on the map. I mean, you know, Raleigh, North Carolina on the map a little bit with with their success and the passion, the fans they've created with Rob.

But no more how they, you know, love Rob. Brenda Moore here and just, you know, what the canes have done for all North Carolina. If you live in a city like Philadelphia, Boston, Pittsburgh, and they just love all three of their sports teams. And I got to see that first hand Thursday night. I've never heard a stadium even close to that loud from start to finish. Afterwards, the players went to Xfinity, which is a place they go after the game and the fans.

I've never seen anything like the trade I talked about a little bit. And actually, I met the guy that it was a radio guy who started the whole thing by telling the fans about embracing Trey when he was struggling. And they gave him a standing ovation. And since then, he's been on a tear like like no one.

And and yeah, we talked about all that stuff. And he's just loving the city of Philadelphia. He's embraced what the fans, what the sports teams mean to that city. And and I got to watch the players celebrate for a long time after the game.

And I've always been big on chemistry here at NC State. And at one time, I thought it was just a college thing, but it's talking to Rob, Brenda Moore and watching what I saw the other night and and when Trey, they won it with the Nationals. I know that chemistry and I think it's part of the reason he went to the Phillies is he likes a lot of the guys.

Bryce Harper, Shorba. He's played with those guys before. But in meeting Sott and seeing Rio Muto and his, you know, Jeff Hoppins, just seeing all those guys interact with each other. You could tell that's really a bond there that gets you through it tough times and it sometimes gets you over the hump in the playoffs. So it was. And you've got to see Trey at some of the highest moments. You remember the USA thing, right?

Yep. And I tweeted out to Paul Soler the other day, getting the Olympics back with baseball. What what is going to mean in twenty eight in L.A. and Trey was a part of that. And I saw Bryce Harper tweet out something that even though it's going to be college players, he would love to be my league players.

He would love to be a part of the Olympic team in twenty eight. And so you've seen Trey for some of his highest moments as well. But it's been quite a ride for him. We're also proud of him and the way he's embraced NC State and loves NC State. I mean, he and his wife, Kristen, gave back a million dollars to the program, which, you know, that doesn't happen in sports today. A lot for him to give back to a million dollars to a program that, you know, he just went to college here. He and his wife and so for this facility enhancement that we're currently doing. So it's just what he means that this program goes a lot of ways. Yeah.

Elliott Avon of NC State Baseball is with us. You mentioned the chemistry point. And and I think it's definitely obviously a college thing, to your point.

How does that happen? Because that's kind of the secret sauce, right? And especially at the big league level, they're all talented. It's it's they're all good groups of players collectively.

But for for an MLB postseason to go on a run like this, that that thing, it just has to click. And I don't know if I can you can point to one thing or the other and be like, OK, here's the formula, right? Now, you have to have chemistry. And I think it's about who you sign. You know. It may not be who we sign. You know, we try to recruit the right players here who represent NC State the way that we want to represent NC State, do it the way we want to do it. But then you try to make that chemistry work. But and it may be harder to do in college than it's ever been because of the transfer portal. So the players know, you know, that they can get what what they think they want with just a flick of a pen.

And so it may be harder to do that in college than it's ever been. But I didn't know it was a professional thing until the last five or six years, as I talked to Rod Brenda Moore, watch what he's done with the hurricanes and how they represent this city. And we're in a medios right now, which, you know, a medios is one of the staples and one of the the places like that.

I'm back in Jimmy D's room right now where I've spent many an afternoon back here with Jimmy D. And this room brings back so many memories. We got six of our players picking World Series teams right now because we'll play our fall World Series, end up our fall tomorrow, Sunday and ended up Wednesday. And to watch them pick the teams.

But you've got to have chemistry. And if you think about the professional ranks, you talk about spring training, one hundred sixty two games. These guys are away from their families, their wives, their children and the grind that takes place to get to the playoffs.

And these guys are tired a little bit. But I think it's how much it means to each other that can give you that extra energy when it's needed the most. And like I say, when I watch the Phillies players be around each other, it just made me know more than anything.

Its chemistry is so huge. I'm fascinated by your just sort of being around the team, celebrating one another. And it occurs to me, coach, last time you and I saw each other in person, I believe it was at USA Baseball over the summer. And you introduced me to Matt Holliday. So you just have these relationships within within baseball and you find yourselves in these situations because of, you know, checking in on former players and that sort of thing. I'm curious what your interactions have been with Bryce Harper, if any, over your time getting to know Trey in his role at Philadelphia.

What I do is just say in the background, which I'm supposed to do. But like I said, when the players celebrated for two or three hours after the game, we went down the field. I watched their kids run around the field. Actually, the pitcher, they got called up. And I think he got called up from Mayball to pitch in the big league in September.

And I think Good Morning America may have done a piece where his dad was crying when he saw his son pitch for the first time. So I got to hang around with them a little bit in the hotel and get to know that man a little bit and his son. And that night, I just kind of sat in the background, basically sat with Trey and Kristen and Trey got up and moved around a lot. But I just talked to the hitting coach, Kevin Long, who I've known for a while.

And players would stop by. I recruited Jeff Hoffman. So I talked to him for a long time. And Western Wilson, I recruited him. So I talked to him for a while.

But it was just kind of, I just sat there and watched the interaction and saw them giving each other a hard time, messing with each other. I remember Swarmer, we moved to the World Series in 2013. Swarmer played in Indiana. I remember a ball he hit in the World Series that did not get out that he was flabbergasted by. I talked to him in the hotel lobby the next morning and Trey hit that same ball that we thought was going to be UCLA and put up a 2-0 bracket at the World Series. And that didn't get out. So it's just kind of a relationship.

This thing intertwines. These guys never forget what they did in college, who they played against. They remember at-bats. I mean, this game doesn't change much. My guys were asking me what that was like the other night, being around the guys. And I said, I feel like it's going to be being around you guys now, were those guys six or seven years ago. Players are the same. Players don't change.

And if they truly love the game and they truly love to compete and they truly love the teamwork part of baseball and what it can do for you in your life, I don't think players change much. And watching that, it was pretty interesting seeing Bryce Harper, you know, taking pictures, his kids running around, him playing with Trey's kids. It was just kind of neat. As a matter of fact, the box, Trey's suite was right beside, I had a great suite, right beside Bryce Harper's family and right beside Tasty Cake.

So I couldn't have had a better suite. And when Bryce got hit on the hand, to see the expression on his dad's face, I was kind of sitting almost right beside to see the expression on his dad's face as his son. This was like not Bryce Harper, one of the best players in all of baseball.

His son, and he injured too much to keep going because he knows how much this means to Bryce to play and this kind of, and what Bryce means to the city of Philadelphia and what the city of Philadelphia means to him. So I just kind of watch all the interaction. It's kind of like when I go to football practice, which I love to go to football practice here, I don't watch the plays or running or what they're doing. I watch more of the interaction of the coaches with the players and the response they get. So I'm always trying to learn and it was fun to see Trey so happy and you go through so much. And anyway, it was kind of cool. Yeah, no doubt about it.

Nothing beats that. And you've got guys in headlines at the major league level, a little bit of everywhere, right? I talked to Terrell Tatum. I appreciate your help in getting in touch with him for our D1 baseball podcast, ACC baseball, et cetera.

Talked to him like a couple of weeks ago. He's thriving in the White Sox organization. And then I saw just this morning, Patrick Bailey of the San Francisco Giants is a Gold Glove finalist at the catcher position, man.

It seems like just a couple of days ago, he was with you guys with the Wolfpack. I mean, you know, it's unbelievable. Terrell Tatum, White Sox, Mona Lee player of the organization, like you said, Pat Bailey's up for Gold Glove. And I was with the best catcher maybe at baseball the other day, a real, real mule.

And it's just it's so neat. And just Evan Justice got called up this year for our guys to understand. Sometimes you think it's a pipe dream that you're going to play major league baseball or win a national championship when our guys are exposed to that so much. They know it's not a pipe dream. It does require a lot of work and it does require some breaks.

But it's not as far off as they think. No doubt. No doubt. You're a big part of that. And Elliot, I appreciate that about you as an observer of ACC baseball from afar. You know, I've got a lot of respect for the way you do things at NC State. A lot of respect for you coming on.

You're a busy guy. You didn't have to do this, but I love talking baseball with you. I love I love Raleigh.

I love NC State. My relationship with you has been unbelievable. And what you how you treated me when I've been so fortunate to be a part of USA baseball.

I was glad to do this show. Like I said, we just finished picking the World Series teams. It's kind of cool to be here at the Meteos and see our guys put so much effort into picking these teams. And it is all about building chemistry that we hope is going to pay off at at some point this season because we're going to need it.

Because it's such a grind in this league and the ACC to just somehow survive and come out on top so you can get in postseason. But anyway, I always appreciate my time with you and I will see you down the road. Sounds good, coach. I'll I'll see you. I'll make my way over there for some Fall Ball World Series.

Let me know. We got we got a game Friday, game Friday, game Sunday and a game Wednesday. Nice.

I will see you at least one of those days. All right. All right, coach. It's the drive with Josh Graham WSJS. Welcome back. It's the drive round and round we go per se.

Darren bought in for Josh Graham. Happy to have you with us. Fun show. I know. Look, whenever I'm here, I'm I'm mainly going to talk baseball, especially we're in the thick of the A.L. and NLCS. Both both take place games tonight.

We've got double headers for CS matchups tonight and tomorrow night. But I get it. I get it. Football is king. Football runs the world around these parts. And by that, I mean like sports and sports media parts. So we bring on people who know football better than me. Right.

I'm not an idiot. Will Dalton on the other side of the glass knows I defer where there are not areas of my expertise. And one of those people, those experts that we bring in today is my good friend, Reggie Walker. He works for the Sports Business Journal. You see him on ESPN Plus Bayhackle Sports. We do our game of the week on TV in the Charlotte area together. Reggie's just sort of all all over the place.

Bunch of radio in the Charlotte area to the shut down corner podcast, which you can find wherever you listen to podcasts. He's my brother as well. Reggie, what's up, man? How are you? I'm great there. And it's so funny because, as you know, I travel a lot for my job and then obviously to do games and how apropos. Shout out to Will behind the glass there coming in with the Tupac. I get around.

I'm a big Tupac fan and I travel all the time. So I do get around. How about that? You're welcome for that.

It was like the perfect introduction of Reggie Walker. That's perfect, man. All right. So you're in Vegas right now, but not for like fun Vegas reasons, although your job is fun. But I know it's busy and somewhat stressful.

Life is good, though. Let's get started. Reg with college football. I forgot to mention in the intro you played football at Penn State. And I pick your brain a lot about sort of that culture and some other college football program cultures that I witnessed from afar.

And I would imagine most in our listening and viewing audience do as well. They've got a big one this weekend. Penn State at Ohio State.

I can't imagine a better person to describe just sort of. What that means to those involved with those programs and and what kind of game we can expect at noon. That's the big noon one on Saturday. Penn State at Ohio State.

What are your initial impressions? Well, let me it's funny you mention the the history and what it means to people just to give everybody a little bit of context. There is also a high school all star game that's played in the Hershey, Pennsylvania area every year called the Big 33. It is Pennsylvania versus Ohio. Just to kind of give everybody a little bit of clarity on what that means. These kids grow up playing in that game as well and then going on to Ohio State and or Penn State and playing in these types of big games at noon on Fox.

So let me start there. Look, I think this is one of those games that's going to be very, very interesting. You talk to a lot of people when I look at, you know, Ohio State on tape. I see a lot of the things that I'm used to seeing a really, really good stout defense that plays very sound. I think they've got personally, in my opinion, and maybe I'm saying this because he was at Penn State in the past as well. But I think Larry Johnson is the best defensive line coach in the absolute country, period.

Bar none. I think he's the best in the country. And I think that's why they consistently are good defense, because up front they can be dominant, especially because Larry Johnson is there coaching those guys up. The other piece of it is this is the first time for Drew Allard, Penn State's quarterback, and Kyle McCord in terms of starting in this game. Drew Allard is an Ohio native, so this means something to him. He's Penn State's quarterback, a kid that has a lot of promise. Here's where I think this is going to get interesting. Against a team like Ohio State, you've got to find a way to get them on their heels.

You've got to find a way to get them playing in a way that allows them or forces them, I should say, to listen to what you want them to listen to, if that makes any sense. And the problem I think that Penn State is going to have with that is Penn State is one of the worst teams in the country at getting explosive plays. And when you're playing an Ohio State team, you have to find a way to get big plays against this team.

Because if you don't, and you're playing behind the chains, or you're playing in a situation where they've got a chance to get you behind on first and second downs, and really force you to create something, you're going to have a problem. And from a Penn State standpoint, they're tied for 129th in the country. This is the number seven team in the nation, but they are tied for 129th in the country with just 16 plays of 20 or more yards.

You have to find a way. If they don't get five against Ohio State, they are not winning the football game. That is especially to be, again, the number seven team in the country. It's just not something that you associate with teams that are so successful at this level, right? Whereas Ohio State, it feels like they're the number three team in the country. It feels like year after year, they have big play ability, right?

I mean, it pretty much doesn't matter who their skill position players are. There's always the possibility that they're going to bust one big on you. So that's good stuff.

Yeah, go ahead. I'll put that in context for you, right? So Penn State's 129th in the nation with just 16 plays of over 20 yards. Ohio State has 16 plays of over 30 yards alone. So that tells the tale, no doubt about it.

Reg, I saw this sort of tossed around this idea on some social media the other day. And if I'm not mistaken, Pete Thamel and Reece Davis were talking about it in their recent College Game Day podcast as well. Is this the best Penn State team in the James Franklin era? I think it's the most talented.

I don't know if it's the best in terms of, they don't have quite what I would call the, for lack of a better term, the explosivity on the outside that the receiver spot. I'm not sure that, and I love Allen and Singleton, but those guys have not been sort of what we expected. And then I think the other piece of it is, as much as Drew Aller is probably or easily more talented than Sean Clifford was or some of the other quarterbacks, Christian Hackenberg even right early in Franklin's tenure there. As much as Drew Aller is more probably physically talented than those guys, his inexperience has him behind the eight ball a little bit. I don't think we've seen the Drew Aller mistake game that you get from most young quarterbacks yet. And look, credit to him, it may never happen. But until you get through an entire season, that first year as a starter, where it doesn't happen, I'm going to continue to wait for that moment to present itself. And it hasn't to this point, which is a credit to him. But at some point he's going to throw an interception. It's just going to happen. And the question is, in a place like Ohio State on the road in such a big game in a big environment where he's trying to maybe do a little bit more and be a little more superhuman, because of the fact that he's back in Ohio. Does that happen and how does he respond to that he's a young guy really that hasn't had to deal with a lot of adversity yet. And then you think about the running game with Kaitron Allen and Nick Singleton those guys are really talented good backs.

Guess what? Neither one of them has a run for over 20 yards this year. That's something that backs in the past have always sort of created to happen. I think when you look at this football team, I think they're talented. I think they may have some more physical tools than some other teams. But have they created the moments that some other teams in the past have just off of sheer will and competitiveness?

Not quite yet. Reggie Walker's with us on the drive. So Penn State at Ohio State, I think safe to say that's the biggest game in the country, sort of in a viewing the schedule in a whole sense. We've got a big one in ACC country, too, though, number 16 Duke is at number four Florida State, the Seminoles preseason favorites. I mean, they are big time contenders in terms of bigger aspirations, college football playoff and whatnot. For Duke, they might see a return of their starting quarterback Riley Leonard in this one. Nothing definitive has been reported about whether or not he could play in Tallahassee at 7 30 p.m. Is the kick time for for that when the Blue Devils and the Seminoles with or without Leonard at the QB position, Reg, what kind of chances do you give the Blue Devils of knocking off the Seminoles?

Actually give them a decent chance because of the way this team plays defense because they are experienced up front in the offensive line. They know how to handle the different things that Florida State's going to throw at them. I also think this is a chess match and a lot of people have heard the name Mike Elko.

Fine. We know that. We know what he can do defensively. I'm gonna give people a name that I don't think they hear enough of from Florida State and it's offensive coordinator Alex Atkins. Some call him trip, but he is one of those guys from a schematic standpoint that understands how he's got to attack defenses.

I think that's going to be the chess match in this game to really, really watch. How can Alex Atkins break some of the tendencies that his offense has versus Mike Elko, who you know is going to be down in on what these guys like to do and how to defend what they like to do in certain situations. So how can those tendencies be broken by Alex Atkins on offense and then how can Mike Elko adjust to those sort of changes, especially if Riley Leonard is not there on the offensive side to maybe make up for some situations where their offense is going to need to make some superhuman type of plays. I think that's going to be a big key in this game and then also Florida State at times this year they've been, I don't want to say banged up at the receiver position but as you know, as good as those guys have been at the receiver position.

Keon Coleman missed some time earlier this year. Obviously he, you know, he's back and doing his thing for this football team. So as long as they stay healthy there, him and Wilson at the receiver spot those two guys are absolutely impossible to deal with, because of the way that they adjust, because of the way that they handle different situations.

You think about a guy like Johnny Wilson at 6667, he's just a matchup nightmare, because he can also run, and no he is not a tight end at 6667 he is a true receiver, which is very very rare. And then I think the guy you better keep your eye on on this offense for Florida State. If you're Duke in that fan base you better keep your eye on and understand where Jane Bell is at all times that tight end is an effective player he can stretch the field. He's a good inline blocker as well, but oftentimes he's going to take you to where the football is going to go so I would keep an eye on him as well in this game, and I think if you're Duke and, and you have Riley Leonard, obviously he's going to be the key for this offense. But I think the other piece of it is you got to run the football, you got to make this a Florida State offense you got to make this Florida State football team impatient. If you can try to force right you got to get Jordan Travis to try to force to create some big plays, because if you can force him to try to create those big plays instead of allow them to happen. He may give you a couple mistakes. This is a guy that's only got one interception on the season I think he's something like 12 to one touchdown interception ratio something to that effect.

You got to get him to sort of turn the football over. So Jordan waters, Jack is more paint Jones those guys outside of Riley linear are going to have to be real keys, running the football for do if you want a chance to be Florida State. See what I'm saying about inviting smarter people than I do will read you know this stuff Reggie walkers with us on the drive. So we got two more ranked matchups in terms of the national ranks Tennessee at 17 at number 11 Alabama, and then one out west at number 13 Utah plays at number 18 USC, other than the two we talked about reg what's most intriguing about the college football slate this weekend. Well let me, let me make a quick point about the USC Utah game for everybody to understand Utah is the epitome of a physical football team. I'm not sure USC has the toughness and I think it's starting to prove itself, particularly on defense I'm not sure USC has the toughness to deal with Utah. I think that game could be problematic for USC that could be sort of the end of this thought that Caleb Williams and Lincoln Riley are going to do something ridiculously special I would keep an eye on that game for sure, because I think that thing's going to look a little bit different.

Another one I'll get to really really quick. Number five Washington at home against Arizona State and emotional win against Oregon last week at home. Keep an eye on the Huskies early in that game it's it's it's packed 12 after dark 1030 so I know some of us ACC country residents may not stay up for that one I encourage you to stay up for that when I think that game is going to be better, at least early in the season people think I think Washington will pull away late. And then the last one I want to talk about is Clemson in Miami. It's an ACC game obviously this fan base I'm sure is going to be to be locked into it. The folks listening to the show are definitely going to be paying attention to this one.

I'm gonna say it real simple. The demise of Dabo Sweeney has been greatly exaggerated. They're not done. And everybody can say what they want he doesn't use the port he doesn't do this but they're fine at Clemson, I expect them to go down to Miami and beat the hurricanes I think they're better football team than Miami.

I think when you look at Kate club Nick he's continuing to develop and grow his game. I think that's bodes well for Clemson this defensive front is really good. So I think that's one of those games that I think people are sort of sleeping on. But look up now right remember when we buried Clemson early in the season we buried them after losing to Duke and I think two things have happened and then. Number one we now realize that Duke is a good football team regardless of the name Duke right and I mean that respectfully to all the folks in Durham, but that name is not necessarily synonymous with good football.

I think people are realizing Mike Elko in that program is the real deal. And so that loss by Clemson to them is not a quote bad loss, and then obviously Clemson played Florida State to within a touchdown so I think this is a Clemson team that's on the asset. It'll be very interesting in a few weeks the beginning of November when they play Notre Dame I think that's going to be the benchmark game, but I expect him to win at Miami and beat NC State all of a sudden, they take a four game winning streak back into Death Valley against Notre Dame so that's one to keep an eye on as well. But I think the ACC as a whole I think this league is better than people think. I didn't expect Louisville to lose last week but I think that opened a lot of people's eyes remember Florida State North Carolina and Duke all sitting there undefeated Louisville there was one loss so Clemson's got two losses but they're not out of the mix of this thing. I think the ACC is gonna be fun down the stretch. I agree could not agree more and man, I think partially it's because Clemson is coming off the bye week to it just feels like, like, I almost forgot about them that's a really interesting game Clemson at Miami so I'm glad you brought that one up Reg appreciate you man get back to it, and in Vegas Vegas baby Vegas. Love you brother, I will see you soon we got a high school football game next week so obviously we'll be circling up before then. All right. I appreciate you my man somehow I'm going to make it back in time for that as you know I'm in Vegas now. I'll be in Boiling Springs, North Carolina on Saturday for Eastern Kentucky and Gardner Webb, then I got to make my way to New York and then I'll be back we'll do a high school game Friday night and I'll do a college table next Saturday, as well. The busiest man in show business reds, good to talk to you man appreciate the time we'll see you. Take care of yourself. Appreciate it.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-10-21 00:29:36 / 2023-10-21 00:51:43 / 22

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