Who exactly will be in charge of the Florida Football defense in 2024?

Billy Napier explained the dynamic of the defensive coaching staff for 2024
Florida Gators defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong looks at the scoreboard during the second half
Florida Gators defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong looks at the scoreboard during the second half / Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun / USA

For the first half of the 2023 season, it looked like Florida Football was taking a step forward on defense under new defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong. The Gators were ranked in the top 10 of a couple of key metrics and it felt like Billy Napier had made a home run hire by plucking Armstrong away from Alabama.

But as we know, the defense collapsed during the back half of the season and Napier made waves when he let go of Corey Raymond and Sean Spencer during the offseason, along with Jay Bateman leaving to be the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M.

With three new faces in town within the defensive staff, Napier addressed on Wednesday what the roles of everyone will be in 2024.

Florida Football: Who runs this town?

Two of Napier's hires are young up and coming coaches who have tried to hit the ground running on the recruiting trail. Will Harris came over from the LA Chargers after stints with Georgia Southern and Washington, while Gerald Chatman comes to town from Tulane.

But the move that has drawn the most attention was the hire of Ron Roberts from Auburn. Roberts is a grizzled veteran in the business and was the defensive coordinator last season for the Tigers. His title at Florida is Inside Linebackers Coach along with being listed as the Executive Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator.

Napier was asked about the Executive Head Coach title during his press conference on Wednesday.

"There is a mentor-like relationship there and a ton of respect there (between Ron Roberts and Austin Armstrong)…. (Roberts) has mentored a million defensive coaches in his career."

Billy Napier

Napier would later go on to explain what the role of Armstrong and Roberts would be given what seems like two job titles that would clash against each other.

"Austin (Armstrong) calls the plays, but we are getting a guy who can coach the coaches… (Roberts) is the head coach of the defense to some degree."

Billy Napier

As we here at Hail Florida Hail highlighted when Roberts was first announced as Executive Head Coach, there is merit to having veteran leadership among your coaching staff and not just a bunch of youthful wiz kids.

It also raises the question of whether Napier is admitting without admitting it that Armstrong wasn't ready for the job in 2023.

For the record, we love the energy that Armstrong brings and would take his style of high energy and at least trying different schemes when one doesn't work versus the vanilla defense we saw under Patrick Toney. And it is possible, given his youth, that Armstrong is going to benefit from someone he trusts and has a solid rapport with.

But why at the University of Florida are you bringing in a mentor for your defensive coordinator? This is not the type of place where it exactly exudes confidence among your fanbase that the man calling the defensive plays needs to check in with someone as if he is back in high school and has to take around a grade sheet on Thursday to all his teachers so he can be eligible to play on Friday.

This is going to continue to be a topic of conversation because if Florida comes out against Miami and lays an egg on defense, or frankly lays an egg against anyone this season, questions will be asked as to who is calling the plays.

It's also possible Napier is ahead of the game and sees a vision the rest of us don't.

The curse of February is that we don't get to find out if this set up will work until September.