Defending the Briles System: Tennessee vs. Florida ('23)
Young and rising star Gator DC Austin Armstrong stifled the Volunteer offense for much of the night with a simple plan that limited Tennessee to just 16 points.
The purest form of the Briles system today resides in Knoxville, TN. Josh Heupel learned the system from his former college roommate, Jeff Lebby, the current Offensive Coordinator at Oklahoma. Lebby is married to the daughter of Art Briles, making the brother-in-law to TCU OC Kendal Briles.
After the 2014 season, the Sooners were sitting at 8-5 with a stagnant offense. Head Coach Bob Stoops relieved Heupel of his duties and replaced him with current USC Head Coach Lincoln Riley. Heupel was the OC at Utah State for a year before taking over the OC job at Missouri for two more years. When Heupel returned to Power 5 play, he brought the Briles system, which he has run ever since.
Heupel’s counterpart across the sideline in this year’s Tennessee-Florida game is Austin Armstrong, a 30-year-old defensive wunderkind who spurned a job with Nick Saban to be the next DC at Florida with the departure of Patrick Toney to the Arizona Cardinals. Armstrong has quickly risen through the ranks in the past seven years.
Starting as a Graduate Assistant at West Georgia, then for Billy Napier and current Auburn DC Ron Roberts at Louisiana. From there, Armstrong became Georgia’s Defensive Quality control before returning to Louisiana full-time in ’20. When Will Hall, former West Georgia HC and OC at Lousiana, got the HC job at Southern Miss, he hired Austin to run his defense.
Armstrong has worked for some of the best football minds in college football, and going against Heupel, who runs the Briels system, was going to be a test. Gone are OT Darnell Wright (1/10 Bears), QB Hendon Hooker (3rd), WR Jalin Hyatt (3rd), and WR Cedric Tillman (3rd) for the Vols, but the remaining crew is still a dangerous bunch. QB Joe Milton was built for this kind of offense.
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