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Malzahn mum on status of Auburn defensive coordinator search
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Auburn coach Gus Malzahn isn't saying who will run Auburn's defense against Paxton Lynch and Memphis, much less next season.

It's a pretty big challenge for whoever handles the duties in the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 30 after Will Muschamp left to become head coach at South Carolina. Muschamp took assistant Travaris Robinson with him as defensive coordinator and Bobby Bentley as running backs coach.

Malzahn said Thursday he hasn't offered the defensive coordinator job to anyone but declined to give further details. He said he expects to announce plans for the defense in the bowl game on Monday when Auburn returns to practice.

Lynch is one of the top NFL draft prospects and faces a defense that ranked 90th nationally even with Muschamp.

"We're playing one of the best offensive teams in college football," Malzahn said. "We're playing one of the best quarterbacks, if not the best guy for the next level. He's phenomenal."

He wouldn't say who he's interviewed to replace Muschamp, or if that successor could be in position to run the defense in the bowl game. Malzahn said he thinks the defensive players will handle the transition well and that "our defense will be ready."

"This is a group that stuck together," he said. "We saw them get better toward the end of the year. Really, we're just thinking about building upon what they did the second half of the year. We've talked to the leaders. We've got very good leadership."

Auburn (6-6) and Memphis (9-3) both are undergoing a transitions leading up to the game at Legion Field. Memphis's future situation is more settled with Mike Norvell already hired to replace head coach Justin Fuente, who left for Virginia Tech.

Dickey said Norvell will be at the game and was out recruiting during Thursday's news conference put on by the bowl.

Norvell is familiar with Malzahn since they worked together at Tulsa.

"We're in the same boat" as Auburn, Dickey said. "We had three offensive (assistants0 left and moved on to Virginia Tech. We're a little short-handed as well."

NOTE: Malzahn believes quarterback Sean White (knee) will be available for bowl practices. White and Jeremy Johnson have both have had starting turns.