Florida coach Billy Napier talks to players during the NCAA college football team's practice Thursday, March 17, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

Florida has hired Ron Roberts as its new “executive head coach,” co-defensive coordinator, and linebackers coach. The best-case scenario is that UF will have a smaller but comparable effect on offense as LSU did in 2019.

Steve Ensm in ger was the primary offensive coordinator and play caller for the Tigers’ all-out attack that year, despite popular belief that Joe Brady was the driving force behind it. Ensminger collaborated closely with Brady to bring in a lot of new ideas and make decisions in the booth together on game day, but it wasn’t a one-man show. The historic attack was the result of their collaboration, as well as the execution of the plays by some incredibly talented players.

Florida's Billy Napier grew up in Georgia with Bulldogs fans

In 2024, Florida will not have defensive counterparts for Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, or Justin Jefferson. It will also avoid the blending of two opposing viewpoints, as happened with Ensminger and Brady. Austin Armstrong, like Patrick Toney before him, worked for Roberts at Louisiana and now runs the defense that Roberts developed and honed over the years. However, if Roberts’ experience and Armstrong’s precociousness can combine in a way similar to Ensminger and Brady’s, significant defensive gains may be possible by the fall.In 2024, Florida will not have defensive counterparts for Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, or Justin Jefferson. It will also avoid the blending of two opposing viewpoints, as happened with Ensminger and Brady. Austin Armstrong, like Patrick Toney before him, worked for Roberts at Louisiana and now runs the defense that Roberts developed and honed over the years. However, if Roberts’ experience and Armstrong’s precociousness can combine in a way similar to Ensminger and Brady’s, significant defensive gains may be possible by the fall.

Roberts’ hiring brings the defensive staff overhaul to a close. Billy Napier fired co-DC Sean Spencer and DBs coach Corey Raymond shortly after the season ended, and LBs coach Jay Bateman later returned to Texas A&M as a coordinator. Replacements for the former two arrived in December, and Roberts is now on board.

I’m not going to speculate on why there were changes on the defensive side of the house but not the offensive. Some assistant contracts expire at the end of January, and staff turnover occurred in February of last year. The changes may not be carried out.

Regardless, improving the defense is by far the most pressing issue. Many Gator fans have spent the last two years complaining about one aspect of the offense or another, because offensive excellence has long been expected in Gainesville. The overall makeup of recruits available in-state supports that expectation.

However, during Napier’s tenure, UF lost six games while scoring 30 or more points. Six. In 2022, they are 38-33 to Tennessee, 45-35 to LSU, and 45-38 to FSU, respectively; in 2023, they are 39-36 to Arkansas, 52-35 to LSU, and 33-31 to Missouri.

 

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