Florida Football: What does the addition of Ron Roberts mean for the Gators?

After being the defensive coordinator for Auburn in 2023, Ron Roberts is heading to Gainesville with an interesting job title.

Auburn defensive coordinator Ron Roberts is interviewed at the Woltosz Football Performance Center
Auburn defensive coordinator Ron Roberts is interviewed at the Woltosz Football Performance Center / Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

When Jay Bateman left Florida football to be the defensive coordinator for Texas A&M, it meant that Billy Napier had another opening on his staff that he had to fill.

Napier appears to have gone out and picked up an experienced hire for the job, but it is one that comes with some question marks moving forward.

Florida Football: Been around the block

It was first reported by 247 Sports that Auburn defensive coordinator Ron Roberts would be coming to Gainesville to be the linebackers coach in 2024 as well as the co-defensive coordinator alongside Austin Armstrong.

Roberts, 56, has an extensive coaching career that began in 1990. He worked his way up with some smaller programs before becoming the head coach of D2 Delta State. In five years as the head coach at Delta State, Roberts led the program to at least the quarterfinals of the D2 playoffs three times and made an appearance in the 2010 national title game.

From there, he took over FCS-level Southeastern Louisiana and led them to two playoff appearances in six seasons.

His first crack at the FBS level came in 2018 when he became the defensive coordinator for Louisiana under Napier.

He has spent the last six seasons as a defensive coordinator for three different programs with varying results. His low point was that first year at Louisiana, when the Rajun Cajuns were 106th in the country in points allowed per game.

His high point was in 2019, when he vaulted that same defense to 20th, and in 2021, when he led the defense at Baylor to 12th in points allowed per game.

This past season at Auburn, the Tigers were 40th in points allowed, an improvement from being 94th in 2022.

Question Marks

On paper, Roberts has proven he can get the job done at the FBS level. The question mark is what does this mean for Armstrong in 2024.

Armstrong was a grad assistant for Louisiana during that 2018 season Roberts was the DC, so the two have worked together in the past.

The move is being presented as giving Armstrong a "mentor," which is fine except it somewhat pokes a hole in the narrative that Armstrong is also a "rising rock star."

Yes rising stars need mentors because they are not yet stars, but it signals that two years in a row Napier has had a defensive coordinator that wasn't SEC ready.

Patrick Toney was pushed out the door after one season, and while overall tackling seemed to be the bigger issue with Florida last season rather than scheme, Gator fans would probably agree that Florida is not a place where the defensive coordinator should need a mentor. Either the DC is SEC material, or he is not.

What's done is done and for now Florida has picked up a solid addition to their staff that can hopefully fix the issues that have ailed the Gators these past few seasons on defense.