Florida hires Alabama’s Austin Armstrong after ex-defensive coordinator Patrick Toney leaves for NFL
Florida has hired Alabama linebacker coach Austin Armstrong as its new defensive coordinator, the school said Monday. Armstrong, 29, is one of the youngest Power Five coordinators. He replaces Patrick Toney, who left after one season to take a position with the Arizona Cardinals.
The Gators struggled on defense in Tony’s first season, finishing 97th overall on defense and dropping almost 29 points per game. Florida was particularly underperforming in third place, outperforming only Colorado and South Florida nationally after admitting 49.7% of conversions in third place.
Armstrong just joined Alabama State in January 2023 after two years as a defense coordinator at Southern Miss under Will Hall. The Golden Eagles improved from 60th to 42nd overall in Armstrong’s first season with the program in 2021. Southern Miss jumped from 3-9 to 7-6 in Hall’s second season thanks to Armstrong’s defense, which finished 45th. in effective defense.
Armstrong first worked with Napier as an assistant to a Ragin’ Cajuns alumnus in 2018 and returned to the program as an in-house linebacker coach for one year under Tony.
Tony was a key Napier collaborator in Louisiana. He was promoted to defensive coordinator as a 30-year-old assistant and helped lead the program to a 23-2 record in Napier’s final two seasons. In addition to Tony, hard end coach William Pigler is reportedly joining Jonathan Gannon’s Arizona staff.
“We would like to congratulate Patrick Toney on his new challenge and opportunity in the National Football League,” said Napier. Tampa Bay Times. “PT has been a key part of our success over the past five years. He set an excellent example and was a tireless worker and student. He is a dedicated teammate and one of the best coaches and teachers we have ever met. forever grateful for his contribution to our team and we wish him and Kourtney the best as they continue on their journey.”
Florida limped to a 6-7 record in Napier’s first season, including a 30-3 loss to Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Florida set consecutive losing records in an SEC game for the first time since 1959.