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Mike Gesicki’s Struggles Continue Against Northwestern

Sophomore tight end Mike Gesicki was supposed to break out in 2015 after enjoying a productive true freshman campaign. Playing behind Kyle Carter and Adam Breneman, Gesicki’s opportunities were limited, but when his number was called, he stepped up.

After Breneman’s injury, Gesicki’s role significantly increased. 2015 was supposed to be the year he elevated his game to the next level. Instead, the sophomore tight end has taken numerous steps backwards, enduring the dreaded sophomore slump.

There’s no doubting Mike Gesicki’s physical attributes — standing at 6-foot-6, 242 pounds, he’s one of the most intimidating tight ends in the game. With 12 catches for 116 yards and one touchdown, Gesicki’s already surpassed his freshman marks, but given the expectations placed upon him at the beginning of the season, 2015’s already left much to be desired from the sophomore pass catcher.

Gesicki has slowly developed into an offensive liability as he allows his mind to take advantage of him, leading to dropped balls in the most important situations. It’s not as if Gesicki shows these inconsistent tendencies all the time. In practice, he’s smooth as he glides across the field, hauling in passes like it’s second nature to him. He exudes confidence, and it shows on the practice field. But on the big stage, it’s quite the opposite. Gesicki doesn’t look nearly as confident when the ball comes his way, and it’s cost him dearly.

By our count, Gesicki dropped three passes against Northwestern — one of which came in space, with defenders nowhere to be found. None of his drops were worse than the surefire touchdown pass he dropped against Army, but the fact remains that Gesicki needs time to address these issues and sharpen his mind.

The best remedy for the young tight end would be to sit and think — not as punishment, but as a method to alleviate the mental struggles plaguing his current game. Gesicki has the sheer prowess to play on an elite level. But over the course of 10 games, he just hasn’t been able to piece his game together, and who’s to say matchups against Top-25 teams will do him any better?

Kyle Carter, the veteran who’s been nothing more than an afterthought for most of 2015, has experienced his share of struggles over the course of the year, but remains the most qualified member of the tight end corps to finish out the season as the starter. Gesicki would greatly benefit from some time to reflect, and at this point, leaving him out to dry would only further deteriorate his shattered confidence.

Sometimes when a golfer struggles on the course, the best remedy is some time away from the game. Gesicki’s situation isn’t much different, and for his sake, it’s a move Head Coach James Franklin needs to make.

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About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]

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