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Gus Malzahn says leadership steps up in bowl practice
Dec. 27, 2015

By Charles Goldberg

HOOVER, Ala. -- Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said he's pleased with the way his defense looks heading into the Birmingham Bowl, even though the Tigers are down two assistant coaches.

"Anytime you lose defensive coaches, you need leadership to step up, and we've really had that happen. Our guys have really responded well," Malzahn said after Sunday's practice for the bowl game at Hoover High School.

Auburn is missing former defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and secondary coach Travaris Robinson. The Tigers have pressed on with Lance Thompson calling the defensive shots, Rodney Garner coaching the defensive line, and defensive analyst Travis Williams and graduate assistant Blake Gideon filling in with the linebackers and secondary.

To that end, Malzahn said his search for Muschamp's replacement "is going very well. We should have someone hired in the near future."

In the meantime, "our seniors are really stepping up on the defensive side," Malzahn said. "Coach Thompson and the rest of the defensive guys have done an excellent job getting the rest of the guys ready. They feel very prepared."

Malzahn said he hasn't decided whether quarterback Jeremy Johnson and Sean White will start, though both have "performed well in practice."

"You may see both of them."

White has missed the last two games with a knee and foot injury.


• Malzahn said he expects everybody is on track to play except walk-on receiver Gray King, who is injured.

He said center Austin Golson, who suffered a knee injury against Georgia but who hasn't played since, "could play if needed."

• Malzahn said he has been pleased with bowl practice

"Before the break we had some very good practices, but we were really focusing on our young guys, getting those guys some work, and keeping our old guys sharp. Since we've been back, it's the main game plan and getting ready for Memphis. From a coach's standpoint, these bowl games, are really determined by how much your team really wants to play and really wants to win, and I've been very encouraged with our guys. We've had two excellent days of practice. That's a tribute to our seniors."

• Auburn's first Heisman Trophy winner, Pat Sullivan, visited practice.

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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