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Football: Ragin’ Cajuns football assistant coach being hired by Southern Miss

Tim Buckley, The Lafayette Daily Advertiser, Dec. 07, 2020

Southern Miss  is hiring Ragin’ Cajuns inside linebackers coach Austin Armstrong as its defensive coordinator.

“We’re extremely excited for Austin – a bright, young coach who’s done a terrific job for us here this year,” UL coach Billy Napier said Monday. “Really, those (inside linebackers) have played well. He’s had good relationships with the players. They’ve responded to him well.”

Armstrong did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  

Napier indicated he anticipated Armstrong will continue to coach his position group for UL (9-1) through the end of the season. The move comes about two weeks before No. 17 UL is scheduled to play No. 13 Coastal Carolina in the Dec. 19 Sun Belt Conference championship game.

Napier said Armstrong was “well-deserving of that opportunity to be a coordinator, and to do it for a really good guy.”

“You know, Will Hall’s not only a heck of a football coach but a good man – and certainly you like to see your staff to get these opportunities to continue to move up in the profession,” he said. “It’s a natural part of having success.”

Hall, who was hired as coach by Southern Miss last week, was UL’s offensive coordinator for one season, 2017. He later was offensive coordinator at Memphis and, most recently, Tulane.

Armstrong is in his first season as a full-time UL assistant and was hired after ex-Cajuns inside linebackers coach/defensive coordinator Ron Roberts left for the same post at Baylor.

More:Cajuns coach Billy Napier staying at UL after South Carolina reportedly hires Beamer

Armstrong previously was a Cajuns graduate assistant from 2017-18, then left for one season to work as a defensive quality control at Georgia.

He has worked closely this season with starting inside linebackers Lorenzo McCaskill and Ferrod Gardner, the team’s top two tacklers. He also was instrumental in the development of Mike inside linebacker Jacques Boudreaux, a senior last season.

Louisiana inside linebackers coach Austin Armstrong
Austin Armstrong, UL Inside Linebackers Coach
Photo by Brad Kemp, Louisiana Athletics

What happened:Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns 24, Appalachian State 21

More:Louisiana coach Billy Napier explains his thinking in wacky win at Appalachian State

“Once he got the job it was kind of like a sigh of relief,” Gardner said then, “because he knew who you were and he knows how you play and he knows to expect from us.”

“Coach Armstrong, he’s one of the coaches that recruited me to come here. So, we’ve always had that relationship – even when he had left last year,” McCaskill, who has a team-high 72 total tackles, said during preseason camp. “So, I think that’s a great guy to have in the room to be able to lead us. You know, he takes every step to make sure we are prepared in this room.”

Armstrong’s departure will leave UL with two assistant positions not publicly filled. No replacement has been named since offensive line coach D.J. Looney died of a heart attack during a team workout in August.

Tears of joy:Ragin’ Cajuns honored Looney the right way with win at UAB

More:Cajuns will honor D.J. Looney with name on jersey in Birmingham

More:Ragin’ Cajun coaches mourn loss of UL assistant Looney

More:‘I can’t help but think my man D.J. is up there smiling’

UL assistant Looney remembered:‘He always cared about you,’ ex-Mississippi State teammate says

ULM, South Alabama fire coaches

Elsewhere, two Sun Belt Conference coaches have been fired in back-to-back days.

UL Monroe (0-10) parted ways with Matt Viator on Monday and South Alabama (4-7) let Steve Campbell go Sunday.

Viator, a former Jennings High and McNeese coach, reportedly had two years remaining on his current and Campbell one. Viator was 19-39 in five seasons at ULM. 

Campbell was 9-26 in three seasons with the Jaguars. His defensive coordinator at Central Arkansas and USA was Greg Stewart, UL’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2011-12. Stewart remains on staff at South Alabama while a search for Campbell’s replacement is underway.

UL beat both teams this season, including a 70-20 win over ULM.


UL senior running back Trey Ragas was picked Monday to play in the prestigious East-West Shrine Bowl. … Cajuns special teams coordinator Robby Discher was named Monday to the AFCA’s 35-member under-age-35 leadership forum. … Ex-Cajuns assistant coach Zac Etheridge, now at Houston, made the same list. … Former UL receiver Ja’Marcus Bradley, an undrafted rookie, was promoted to the active roster for the first time this season and made his NFL debut in Cleveland’s win over Tennessee on Sunday. Bradley was in on 11 plays, 10 on offense.