JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) -- Arkansas State says defensive coordinator John Thompson will serve as interim coach for the Red Wolves as they prepare to play No. 25 Kent State in the bowl next month.

Thompson takes over for Gus Malzahn, who's leaving Arkansas State for Auburn after one season. Malzahn led the Red Wolves to a 9-3 record and a Sun Belt Conference championship.

Athletic director Terry Mohajir says it's best for Arkansas State to have an interim coach for the bowl because Malzahn "will understandably be consumed with his commitments to Auburn."

Thompson is in his first year as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Arkansas State. He was previously an assistant coach at Georgia State and coach at East Carolina.

Arkansas State's defense ranked first in scoring defense in the Sun Belt this year.

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