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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Austin Armstrong replacing Patrick Toney as defensive play-caller

Armstrong most recently joined Alabama’s staff as linebackers coach in January

<p>A Florida football helmet, pictured during a game against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 4, 2021.</p>

A Florida football helmet, pictured during a game against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 4, 2021.

Florida co-defensive coordinator Patrick Toney is leaving the Gators to join the Arizona Cardinals as a defensive assistant, as first reported by Chris Low via Twitter. Florida tight ends coach William Peagler is also joining Arizona, On3’s Matt Zenitz first reported.

UF head football coach Billy Napier is bringing in Alabama coach Austin Armstrong to replace Toney, Zenitz reported on Twitter.

Armstrong joined the Crimson Tide’s staff to coach the inside linebackers in January. He spent two years as the youngest defensive coordinator in the Football Bowl Subdivision with the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles before he was hired by Alabama.

Southern Miss ranked 59th in total defense according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The Golden Eagles allowed an 81st-ranked 234 passing yards per game and a 47th-best 138.2 rushing yards per game, according to the NCAA.

Armstrong’s defense was also top five in the nation with 3.4 sacks per game and 44 total sacks in 2022, according to the NCAA. It ended the season with 108 total tackles for loss and 8.3 tackles for loss per game — both the third-best in the nation, according to the NCAA.

Napier still has Sean Spencer, who shared defensive coordinator responsibilities and coaches the defensive line.

Toney spent five years coaching alongside Napier before his move to the National Football League. He spent time with the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns as a safeties coach from 2018 to 2020 before his promotion to defensive coordinator in 2021.

The former Ragin’ Cajun left Louisiana when Napier was hired by the Gators to become a defensive coordinator in Napier’s new staff.

Toney’s defense allowed 235.8 passing yards per game — the 84th-best average — according to the NCAA. His defense also gave up 175.2 rushing yards per game — the 100th-ranked average — and 29 rushing touchdowns, according to the NCAA.

The Poway, California, native is joining new Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon, who spent two years as defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Arizona gave up 3,915 passing yards — the NFL’s ninth-highest total — and 29 passing touchdowns — tied for the second-worst tally — in 2022. The Cardinals also ranked in the middle of the league with 2,016 rushing yards allowed, and they gave up 21 rushing touchdowns, the fifth-worst total in the NFL.

Contact Kyle Bumpers at kbumpers@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @BumpersKyle.

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Kyle Bumpers

Kyle Bumpers is a fourth-year journalism major and the sports editor of The Alligator. In his free time, he cries about Russell Wilson and writes an outrageous amount of movie reviews on Letterboxd.


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