Less than two weeks before spring training begins, Florida head coach Billy Napier is looking for a new defensive coordinator with Patrick Toney heading to the Arizona Cardinals, a program source confirmed to the Athletic on Wednesday. ESPN first reported the news. Here’s what you should know:
Tony, 32, was among the younger Power 5 coordinators during his only season in Florida, after serving under Napier for four seasons in Louisiana.
Alabama inside linebackers coach Austin Armstrong is expected to become Florida’s new capital, a program source told The Athletic on Wednesday. On3 Sports’ Matt Zenitz first announced the news.
Despite being declared a learner, Tony’s 2022 Florida defense underwent a bumpy transition, ranking 87th in points allowed (28.8), 103 in yards per game (5.92) and 129 in third down stops ( 49.71 percent).
Tony oversaw the Gators safety team, a group that is slated to split into three freshmen in 2023. He heavily considered the recruiting class that landed including seven of the top 300 defensive recruits, including three defensemen.
Instant Athletic Analysis:
What does the loss mean for Florida?
The timing isn’t ideal, however, with the Gators set for their spring-rehearsed open on March 4. That means Tony’s successor should quickly hit the ground running to begin stabilizing the system. The positive for whom Napier hires is that most SEC defenses now operate from a five-DB base, alternating between 3-3 and 4-2 fronts. So the Gators likely won’t undergo many scheme changes.
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