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Auburn's defense moving forward in Outback Bowl
Dec. 28, 2014

Charlie Harbison is controlling Auburn's defense in the Outback Bowl

By Charles Goldberg

TAMPA, Fla. -- Charlie Harbison is the man in the middle, the man chosen to replace Ellis Johnson to run Auburn's defense in the Outback Bowl, and the man who will give up those responsibilities as soon as the game ends when new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp officially begins putting his stamp on the program.

Harbison understands how this game works.

"The bottom line is in this business, change happens," said Harbison, who spent the last two seasons coaching Auburn safeties while also serving as co-defensive coordinator. He's done these things before: Like coaching the 20 years in the SEC, like serving as defensive coordinator at Mississippi State and co-defensive coordinator at Clemson and Auburn.

Harbison says the same rules that apply to him apply to his players.

"What we do is get our guys and say 'next step.' What's going to happen is going to happen, so just move forward. These guys are getting prepared and winning this game, that's the key," he said after Sunday's practice.

Auburn plays Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl on Thursday looking to slow down the nation's leading rusher in Melvin Gordon and an offense that relies on the run.

Harbison said he's been working toward that end.

"It's been fun," he said. "The bottom line is we're doing what we've been doing, and we're just getting guys in position to make plays, and getting fast, and making tackles, making plays, doing our assignments, sound assignments."

Muschamp is at practice as an observer, evaluating talent for next season.

"He's just viewing the kids, taking a look at everything, overview of everything, just watching and seeing what kind of talent we have," Harbison said.

"I think he fits in great. I've worked with him before, and he's got a lot of energy, he's just watching what we've got on the field and seeing how the pieces of the puzzle fit together."

Harbison said change is part of the game. He's been coaching in it since 1992.

"I've been in this business for a while, it's just part of it," he said. "I let my work speak for itself and continue to go forward, continue to get these guys ready to play.
"I look at it like this: Your work will make room for you. I'm just getting our kids ready to play, ready to play fast, get off the field and get the ball back to the offense."

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



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