LSU eyes special teams coordinator candidates
LSU’s special teams in 2022 was, in harsh terms, a train wreck. Struggles in the return and coverage games made the unit seem dysfunctional.
Brian Polian, who followed Brian Kelly from Notre Dame last offseason, has been kicked upstairs, if you will, to oversee roster management. That leaves an opening at special teams coordinator that Kelly must get right.
Under Kelly’s predecessor Ed Orgeron, LSU made a strong hire in Greg McMahon, who had served as special teams coordinator for the New Orleans Saints for 11 seasons.
McMahon inherited a special teams group that was in search of direction. When he arrived in 2018, so did specialists Cole Tracy, Cade York and Avery Atkins. Former minor league baseball pitcher Zach Von Rosenberg also flourished under McMahon’s watch as a punter. Deep snapper Blake Ferguson was a sixth round NFL draft choice.
It was cleae that McMahon had an eye for talent and knew how to fine tune the skills available. The Tigers won games thanks to special teams. McMahon is now the special teams coach of the Houston Roughnecks of the XFL.
Where does Kelly go from here? I’ve tallied a few names which have surfaced as potential hires so far. A couple of these may sound familiar.
Marty Biagi just signed a multi-year deal with Ole Miss in 2022. He spent the 2016 season at Notre Dame under Kelly as a special teams assistant and was also a co-defensive coordinator while at Arkansas Pine Bluff.
In his career to date, Biagi has twice been named Special teams coordinator of the year by Football Scoop. He was a punter and place kicker at Marshall from 2004 to 2007).
Familiar with southeast Louisiana, Biagi served as defensive backs and special teams coach at Southern University (2012-’14). The Jaguars had four kick returns and three punt returns for touchdowns in his tenure.
Pete Lembo, 52, is currently at South Carolina. He played center at Georgetown (for the football Hoyas, that is).
The Gamecocks blocked three punts and a field goal this past season. None of Carolina’s attempts were blocked. Lembo arrived in Columbia from Memphis where the Tigers blocked two punts and two blocked fiedl goals in one season. He raised the bar while at Rice, where their special teams went from 114th in the country to 17th including 14th in kick returns.
While at Maryland ib 2016 and 2017), Lembo’s special teams ranked 11th. During his two seasons, the Terrapins accounted for nine blocked kicks. Lembo was also assistant head coach at Maryland.
South Carolina recently jumped Lembo’s salary from $465,000 to $725,000.
Keith Murphy at Central Michigan has helped the Chippewas earn 13 postseason honors from the MAC over the past two seasons. His unit has blocked seven punts. He also spent a pair of seasons as the Los Angeles Rams assistant special teams coach.
Allen Tucker, who played defensive end and deep snapper at Mississippi State in 2011, coaches currently at Akron. He came over from Starkville. During his time coaching special teams, six players from that unit have gone onto the NFL and one made the Pro Bowl in 2021.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…