Your Best 11 Mailbag: LSU's Offense, Notre Dame-Michigan, Aaron Murray and More

Michael FelderNational CFB Lead WriterSeptember 4, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 31:  Jarvis Landry #80 of the LSU Tigers celebrates his touchdown with Odell Beckham Jr. #3 against the TCU Horned Frogs at AT&T Stadium on August 31, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

We have moved the mailbag to Wednesday, on account of my real human schedule. However, do not worry people, there will still be plenty of questions answered and a lot of fun had. Let's get into this bag, as we head into the second weekend of games.

A huge influence. A lot of influence.

The best thing for LSU is not that quarterback Zach Mettenberger has corrected some mechanical issues, it is that the offense actually has a plan. For the last few seasons LSU just was lost on offense. Plays were called in a whimsical fashion, almost a sort of running-things-up-the-flagpole just to see if maybe they worked.

Some did, but there were a lot of things that did not. Players that should have been contributors, like Russell Shepard, ended up lost because the offense just did not know how to make use of its weapons. Instead of turning the studs at the receiver and running back position loose, they just sort of got by on O.

Now, with Cam Cameron, LSU knows it is going to run the ball to set things up, and then use the passing game to knock them down. It was beautiful to see against a TCU defense that is one of the nation's more solid units.

Honestly, I was surprised. I thought the transition would be more gradual. But, hey, if they are going to go, then I guess go all the way, right? I also think it helped, in terms of reveal, that this was an ACC game in which the Seminoles were starting a brand new quarterback.

Basically, had this been a cupcake or if they were certain the offense would go from jump, I don't know that Jeremy Pruitt and his defensive staff would have put so many different looks on the plate of the defense. They lined up in 3-4 looks for much of the game, and after settling into the mix, they looked pretty good.

I'll be curious to see how they they go back and tweak things with the bye week heading into the Nevada and Bethune-Cookman games. On the plus side, against Pitt the Noles showed a lot for BC and Maryland to look at in prep. That's an element that might have pushed Pruitt to do more against the Panthers than in normal opening contests.

There's a reason in every video that I do not do make predictions. I don't like them. Same goes for why I don't write a predictions column. I don't like them. So, basically, whenever I have to pick a score for people, I usually just say 24-17 if the teams are pro-styled, or 41-38 if they are more up-tempo squads.

Notre Dame 24 and Michigan 17.

I like Notre Dame's defense, especially the defensive line. I think that is going to make it difficult for Michigan to get if offensive in gear. A lack of a run game means the play-action game stumbles, and I think that limits what Devin Gardner can do.

Meanwhile, I like the one-two punch of Amir Carlisle and Cam McDaniel for the Irish. I think they'll move the ball on the ground enough to let Tommy Rees find TJ Jones and DaVaris Daniels, assuming he's healthy, down the field. 

Certainly, you've heard of the Johnny Manziel controversy surrounding the Rice game. If you have not heard of the Rex Ryan situation, here it is in a nutshell: The coach left New York on Saturday, the final cut day in the NFL, to watch his son's first game dressing out at Clemson.

I think both are bad. Really bad. Like, people need to get a life bad. However, if I have to pick which is worse, I'm going for Rex Ryan bashing. Quite honestly, it speaks to people lacking perspective and trying to build a story out of something we should likely be celebrating.

A father put his son, and his family, ahead of his job. Do you know how many kids all over America, at every level of sports, want to look up into the stands and see their dad at the game? Yet some people are trying to dump on Ryan for doing exactly that? Even going so far as to question his priorities.

He has his priorities in order. His kid and his family come before work. If my dad had missed my first game dressing out at UNC, or my first Meet the Heels Day, because of work, I'd have been heartbroken. Football was a big thing between my dad and I, dating back to elementary school, where I got yelled at for not knowing a play and I decided to learn everything about football that I could.

Rex did something that I find to be admirable. It isn't him mailing it in for work, it's him taking the day off to spend time with his family and watch his kid wear the orange and white on the sideline. Good for him.

Honestly, I don't think that it matters because I just don't imagine him leaving. For me, Fitzgerald is in the same class as Chris Petersen at Boise State. Both are guys who are happy where they are and will remain there until they either retire or the ship sinks.

Fitzgerald is a good coach. I'd love to see what he can do with more talent, but it seems he's truly enjoying working at his alma mater. Good for him, and great for Northwestern.

I'm not one to subscribe to these theories about Aaron Murray. I know it is a narrative that people push in a big way. I've been bombarded with tweets about it in the wake of the Clemson loss, as if somehow the 38 points given up by the defense has nothing to do with the loss.

When good teams play games, someone has to lose. In many instances, it has been the Georgia Bulldogs. I think that has less to do with Murray or the staff and more to do with Georgia still not being where people want it to be. This is a team that was 6-7 in 2010 and had to rebuild many facets of itself.

The defense is still not what it should be.

In the Boise State game, the Broncos were just better. In the SEC Championship Game against LSU, the Bayou Bengals were just better. I don't think the issue is Murray or Mike Bobo or even Mark Richt, I just don't think the Bulldogs are as good as people want to believe they are across the board.

My most impressive is a split vote between LSU and Clemson, with a side of Virginia Tech's defense. LSU had a plan on offense and the defense seems to be on the track we expected. Clemson's defense got huge stops in big moments. While it gave up 35 points, it found a way to get off the field when it counted.

And, yes, hats off to the Hokies' defense. It came out and  and shut down Alabama in every facet of the game. The Hokies made AJ McCarron look very average. They made the run game stall and got to the quarterback. If they play like that this season, they will be a problem in the ACC.

As for least impressive, I've got to go with USC, Ohio State and Oregon State. USC doesn't have a quarterback. For much of this QB competition, it seemed like maybe the Trojans had two guys who could be "the" guy. After watching their opening win over Hawaii, it seems like they have two guys, neither of whom  can be "the" guy.

Ohio State on both sides of the ball left me wanting more. I think the biggest thing was the lack of a quality passing game from Miller and the need to run the quarterback 17 times. The defense has to improve, but, more importantly, to have the season they want, the Buckeyes need to be more capable in the pass game and less reliant on Miller the runner.

Ah, Oregon State. Mike Riley has been one of the nation's most underrated coaches. Yet, on this opening weekend, his team did not play like it. The defense gave up yards in bunches to Eastern Washington—more than 600—to go along with six touchdowns. That was just a disappointing look from a team that is just two seasons removed from a loss to Sacramento State to open the year. These guys know this can happen and yet, it still did.

Not a bang-up start for the Beavers.