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November 19, 2013

Malcolm Willis

Q.  You have seen Taylor Martinez a decent amount the last couple of years, and you won't see him Saturday.  Can you talk about the difference between their offense the past couple of years and what you guys see now?
MALCOLM WILLIS:  For the most part it's the same.  Taylor Martinez is a great athlete and a terrific play maker.  He's made a lot of plays against us for the past two years.
But you know, they have a young guy that's more than capable of getting the job done.  He's explosive as well.  So we have to make sure that we're ready for everything they throw at us on Saturday.

Q.  Malcolm, you and Glenn are both leaders of the defense.  Can you talk about the relationship you have on and off the field, and what Glenn means as that middle linebacker of yours?
MALCOLM WILLIS:  Glenn really defines our defense.  He's a tough guy.  He's always doing extra things whether it's watching film after practice or before meetings and in the afternoon we have a great relationship on the field as well as off the field.  We tend to go into film and watch film together.  On the field him being the middle linebacker and me being the free safety, it's like we have to communicate with each other the most just to make sure everybody's on the same page.  So to sum it up, we really have a great relationship between the two of us.

Q.  Malcolm, who do you think will be the most emotional senior out there before the game on Saturday?
MALCOLM WILLIS:  I don't know.  I think we'll all be pretty emotional.  I don't really think it's hit us yet that it's our last game at Beaver Stadium.  But I'm sure all of us will be really, really emotional come Saturday.

Q.  Has it gone by quickly or does it seem like it's taken a long time?
MALCOLM WILLIS:  At times it goes by quickly.  This year has really flown by.  But being here five years, it's hard to say that everything went by quick, but this year definitely has gone by really fast.

Q.  Malcolm, Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah, he's had over a hundred yards in every game this year except for one where he had 98.  So he gets his every game.  What do you guys need to do to prevent him from getting to the second level and doing damage?
MALCOLM WILLIS:  A player of his caliber, it's really hard to stop a player that is explosive as he is.  We just have to try to contain him.  We have to limit the things he can do and change the looks up.  We have to make sure we're a very good tackling team come Saturday.

Q.  When Nebraska spreads the field and opens up the middle because they like to try to get those running lanes, and you being the safety knowing you're the last line of defense in the middle, what is going through your mind when you face an offense like that?
MALCOLM WILLIS:  We just have to make sure we know our assignments and our eyes are in the right places.  Especially as a safety, you know, you're not being disciplined on any given call could give up a touchdown on any play.  So as long as my eyes and my technique is right, then everything should be okay.

Q.  Five years is a long time.  What was the high point and low point of those five years?
MALCOLM WILLIS:  The high point would be every win, every win we have.  As an athlete and competitor, you never want to lose.  So whether it's a big game or a high caliber game, winning a game is really a high point for me.  A low point would probably be my red‑shirt freshman year just not being able to play.  Me feeling like I was ready to play but actually realizing that I really wasn't.  I needed to get bigger and stronger and faster in order to be able to contribute to the team.

Q.  Adrian and Jordan have had success blitzing from their corner spot this season.  What's that do for the secondary when you have guys at those positions who are able to bring that aspect to their position?
MALCOLM WILLIS:  It gives us a lot of confidence.  Those guys are great athletes.  They're great competitors.  So when they make plays, it just gets everybody fired up, not just the secondary, but the defense and the whole team as a unit.

Q.  Do you guys as safeties have to make adjustments when they blitz?
MALCOLM WILLIS:  Naturally it depends on the call.  Coach Butler has done a great job this year with making different calls and changing up the looks.  So a team doesn't really know when we're coming from, which side or whether we're coming up the middle, outside or anything like that.  So that's really a test that goes by play call.

Q.  Do you feel the last game and a half or so you guys have begun to hit a little bit more of a stride on defense?  It seems that maybe you guys have settled down over this period of time.
MALCOLM WILLIS:  For the most part we understand that it's always mistakes to be made.  It's always room for improvement.  So every game comes and we have bad plays every game, we have good plays every game.  It's just us to come in and watch the film on the mistakes that we've made and try to improve on those and try to really duplicate the things that we've done well.

Q.  If you win this, that clinches a winning season.  A couple years ago people wouldn't have thought Penn State would be having winning seasons.  What would it mean getting through these first couple years having winning seasons?
MALCOLM WILLIS:  As far as that goes, nobody wants to lose.  We don't play the game to lose.  We play the game to go out there and compete and win.  So to have a winning season would be great, but we're really focused on Nebraska this week and taking it one day at a time.  Today is Tuesday.  We need to go out and have a great practice.

Q.  Jordan Lucas is a guy who is telling me last week he is pretty close to you and looks up to you.  Coach O'Brien was asked earlier about Jordan's celebration.  What is his personality like?
MALCOLM WILLIS:  He's an outgoing guy.  He's funny off the field and on the field.  He's a guy that when we're having a dull moment on the field or somebody gives up a big play in practice or something like that, he's the guy that tells you don't worry about it and makes a joke about it.  We'll watch film, and laugh about things that we do and mistakes that we make.  But it's all for the better because we come out the next day and improve on the things we were just laughing about making a mistake on and things like that.

Q.  Nebraska is coming back in town for the first time since two years ago when it was obviously an emotional time for everyone around here.  What do you remember, if anything, about that pregame ceremony, and particularly how cordial Nebraska was toward the Penn State program?
MALCOLM WILLIS:  I just remember the pregame prayer.  That is really the only thing I remember from the pregame.  But the main thing I remember from playing Nebraska we haven't won a game in the last two years that I've played.  So we need to, like I said, have a good week of practice and come out on Saturday ready to go.

Q.  Malcolm, in terms of these last couple years, how much do you guys like you seniors still think about what happened in 2011 and what happened with the NCAA and everything like last summer?  You mentioned low points as your red‑shirt year.  Do you even really think about those things that much anymore?
MALCOLM WILLIS:  I like to think that we've moved on.  We've tried to regain ourselves.  Just try to take every day one day at a time.  We're at the end of the season this year and it's flown by.  It seems like it was so long ago that everything happened.  So we're really just trying to take it one day at a time, like I said.  Yesterday we had a great practice and today we need another one in order to get ready for this week.

Q.  It seems Nebraska likes to throw the ball to the outside corners as a fade route.  As a safety playing in the middle, does that frustrate you not to have the ball coming your way?
MALCOLM WILLIS:  I would guess so.  I mean, as a competitor, sometimes you think that you can make the plays when somebody else can't.  That you want to contribute.  As a defensive back all you have to do is be ready for when your opportunity comes.  When your opportunity comes, you have to take advantage of it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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