Florida has hired Alabama linebackers coach Austin Armstrong as its new defensive coordinator, the school announced on Monday. Armstrong, 29, is one of the youngest coordinators in the Power Five. He replaces Patrick Toney, who left after one season to take a position with the Arizona Cardinals.  

The Gators struggled defensively in Toney's first season, finishing No. 97 in total defense and giving up nearly 29 points per game. Florida was especially ineffective on third down, ranking only ahead of Colorado and South Florida nationally after allowing conversions on 49.7% of third downs. 

Armstrong had just joined Alabama's staff in January 2023 after two years as defensive coordinator at Southern Miss under Will Hall. The Golden Eagles improved from No. 60 to No. 42 in total defense in Armstrong's first season with the program in 2021. Southern Miss jumped from 3-9 to 7-6 in Hall's second season, keyed by Armstrong's defense that ranked No. 45 in scoring defense. 

Armstrong first worked with Napier as a graduate assistant for the Ragin' Cajuns in 2018 and returned to the program as an inside linebackers coach for one year under Toney. 

Toney was a key member of Napier's staff at 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 Toney, tight ends coach William Peagler is also reportedly joining Jonathan Gannon's staff in Arizona

"We would like to congratulate Patrick Toney on his new challenge and opportunity in the National Football League," Napier told the Tampa Bay Times. "PT has been a pivotal part of our success over the last five years. He has set a great example and been a relentless worker and learner. He is a selfless teammate and one of the finest coaches and teachers we have been around. We are forever thankful for his contributions to our teams and we wish him and Courtney well as they continue their journey." 

Florida limped out to a 6-7 record in Napier's first season, including a 30-3 loss to Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl. Florida posted consecutive losing records in SEC play for the first time since 1959.