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Notes: Young DBs rise to occasion

Trevor Williams' season started with an interception. It ended with one, too.

Golden (6) and Williams stepped in to help Lucas (9) on Saturday.

The in-between wasn't quite as smooth for Penn State's sophomore cornerback, but he, like many of the young players on the Nittany Lions' defense, will view 2013 as an important learning experience.

"I'm still getting used to the transition from wide receiver to corner," Williams said. "It wasn't easy. Nobody said it was going to be easy, but I just tried to practice and correct my mistakes, watch a lot of film and take coaching as well as possible, and I think it paid off today."

With former Calvert Hall teammate Adrian Amos sidelined for all but a few plays with a foot sprain, Williams and fellow sophomore Da'Quan Davis saw plenty of time at corner and in nickel situations during the Nittany Lions' 31-24 win at Wisconsin. Williams had three solo tackles and made his second interception of the season -- his first since the opener against Syracuse -- after a Joel Stave pass went off Jared Abbrederis' hands early in the fourth quarter, and nearly came up with another interception later in the game.

Another player who was a wide receiver in 2012 got some important reps as well. Redshirt freshman Malik Golden filled in at safety for veteran Malcolm Willis for the majority of the second half, finishing with three tackles and a key pass breakup.

A Penn State defense that will lose just three senior starters welcomed the contributions from the underclassmen.

"Any time you come in to an environment like this on the road and young guys can play and play pretty well, that's pretty good," coach Bill O'Brien said. "I think that bodes well for the future. Those guys have to keep working and keep trying to improve but certainly it's good to come in here, those guys play a lot and we win, that leaves everybody with a pretty good feeling."

"I think we've got a lot of good young guys," Golden said. "Me, Trevor, Brandon (Bell), Eugene Lewis, Akeel Lynch. We're all excited to get to the offseason and improve."

Going out on top

Penn State named five seniors -- linebacker Glenn Carson, center Ty Howle, defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, offensive guard John Urschel and fullback Pat Zerbe -- its season captains before the game.

The defeat of the Badgers held extra meaning for them and the rest of the seniors, who had lost their final game in Beaver Stadium the week before.

"This season didn't really go as we wanted it to," Carson said. "That's why this game is so important to us. I think that this win right here kind of eases our mind about the previous losses. It's something we can hang our hat on and feel good about."

Carson had some words for his younger teammates in the locker room after the game, and shared a synopsis with reporters.

"Just when everybody's doubting you, just remember this moment," he said. "Just remember that you can always gain respect back by just victory. And for the younger classmen to remember this moment as they prepare themselves for next season."

Real cut-ups

The usually long locks of Howle and Adam Gress looked a little shorter in the moments after Saturday's win.

Carson explained why.

"It's just something I always busted their chops about, is their long hair," the linebacker said. "Gress would always spray some water on it like he was a Hollywood star or something. I always joked around about taking some scissors to their hair. And I made them promise if we won this game they would let me cut their hair."

Carson didn't waste much time after the game had ended making his teammates keep their promise, grabbing a pair of scissors and getting to work.

"It's all over the locker room," he said, grinning.

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