Greg McMahon’s place is in the back of the meeting room in a corner.
There, LSU’s special teams analyst — the program’s quasi-special teams coordinator — scribbles in a notebook and listens during meetings he organized.
He can’t do much else.
“He can’t talk to us, but what will happen is he’ll talk to our (graduate assistant) and kind of tell him what he wants to tell us,” kicker Connor Culp said.
“He can talk to coaches,” walk-on kicker Jack Gonsoulin said, “but can’t address players directly in meetings and at practice.”
Welcome to the weird world of LSU’s special teams — uniquely structured but operating smoothly, players said. Head coach Ed Orgeron decided against hiring a special teams coordinator as one of his nine full-time assistant coaches. He instead is splitting up special teams duties among position coaches, and he hired McMahon as a consultant — his title is now analyst — to oversee the operation.
McMahon, the longtime New Orleans Saints assistant, was in line to be LSU’s full-time special teams coordinator had the NCAA’s addition of a 10th full-time assistant, approved last week, taken effect immediately. Instead, schools won't be able to add a 10th assistant until January, the NCAA announced last week.
As an analyst, McMahon is limited by NCAA rules. He can be at practice and meetings, for instance, but he can’t speak to players during either.
That can be frustrating, McMahon admitted earlier this spring. As LSU's spring practice wraps up — the Tigers will practice Thursday before the spring game Saturday night in Tiger Stadium — the players are adjusting, and so are the assistant coaches.
“(It’s) different because you can’t have a direct source from a coach,” Culp said. “Got to get it indirectly, but I don’t think it’s a problem.”
LSU will run McMahon’s “system,” Orgeron has said in the past, and he’s expected to be in the press box during games this season. McMahon instructs graduate assistant Chris Forestier and the five position coaches who are in charge of various special teams. They disseminate McMahon’s message to players.
The five assistants overseeing special teams are running backs coach Tommie Robinson (punt team), secondary coach Corey Raymond (punt return), offensive line coach Jeff Grimes (field goal team), outside linebackers coach Dennis Johnson (field goal block and kickoff teams) and receivers coach Mickey Joseph (kickoff return).
Forestier, a statistician last year promoted to one of the team’s four GA spots this year, runs practices.
“He’s out there with us at practice every day,” Gonsoulin said. “He’s kind of the liaison between coach McMahon and the specialists. He’s the one organizing the drills and kind of helping us through practice, giving us the structure.”
Breiden Fehoko recalls his first and only trip to Louisiana.
Meanwhile, a competition is raging at LSU’s kickoff spot and field goal kicking position.
Gonsoulin, a third-year sophomore out of Catholic High, describes the battle at field goal as “completely open.” Gonsoulin, senior Cameron Gamble and redshirt freshman Culp continue to compete to replace Colby Delahoussaye.
“Cameron and Conner and I, we’ve all had really good springs. Too early to pick a frontrunner,” Gonsoulin said.
Culp admitted earlier this spring that the trio, also competing at kickoff, has struggled in that regard. Kickoffs have troubled LSU in the past.
“We haven’t been very good,” Culp said.
There’s plenty of time to improve, of course.
Gonsoulin has his eyes on a starting spot, hoping to go from walk-on to scholarship starter like his two predecessors, Delahoussaye and Trent Domingue. He made a 49-yard field goal in a scrimmage earlier this spring, which Orgeron made sure to mention to reporters.
Gonsoulin has turned to McMahon for help. Players can meet privately with McMahon, Gonsoulin said.
“I’ll pick his brain. He has a lot of NFL experience,” he said. “I’ll ask him about some of the other (NFL) guys, and I’ll ask him what I can do to improve his game.”
This is the second in a seven-part series being published this week ahead of LSU's spring ga…