Pancoast, Holland Could See Increased Roles Pending Mike Gesicki’s Health
On his third reception of Saturday’s game, Penn State standout tight end Mike Gesicki spun out of a tackle and plowed towards the first down marker.
His momentum was slowed by Indiana linebacker Chris Covington while All-American Tegray Scales zeroed in and delivered a blow to Gesicki’s upper rib area.
Gesicki was in evident pain immediately after the play and was helped off the field by trainers and head coach James Franklin. He did not return to the game in the second half.
James Franklin said Tuesday at his press conference that he has no update on Gesicki, but that he “to play on Saturday like the other tight ends.”
Franklin says he expects Gesicki to be playing on Saturday.
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In the case of a mild to moderate injury, the timing is not the worst for Penn State. The Nittany Lions are currently two touchdown favorites over Northwestern this Saturday and have a bye the following week.
This leaves Gesicki three weeks, if needed, to get healthy for the Oct. 21 showdown against No. 7 Michigan.
Redshirt senior Tom Pancoast and redshirt sophomore Jon Holland are the likely substitutes at tight end, as both saw in-game action against Indiana after Gesicki’s injury.
Pancoast has appeared in all five games this season and recently made his first career reception in week one for 12 yards against Akron. Pancoast also added a five-yard grab versus the Hoosiers. He appeared in all 14 games last season on offense or special teams.
Holland equally has appeared in every game this season and nabbed his first career reception against Georgia State. He had an additional catch in Kinnick Stadium a week later.
The 6-foot-4, 248-pound Holland had a great showing in April’s Blue-White game with eight catches for 60 yards, afterwards receiving praise for his blocking by Gesicki. Neither Pancoast nor Holland has had substantial experience making plays with the ball in their hands during their college careers, though, which will not ease the nerves of Penn State fans.
It should also be noted that redshirt sophomore Nick Bowers, who Franklin has praised, was back on the field for warmups this past weekend. He’s rumored to have rare athleticism combined with a large frame similar to Gesicki’s.
It will be an extreme challenge for any of the three backups to fill an All-American candidate’s shoes, as Gesicki’s size, ball catching ability, and vertical threat combine to form a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
Pending the severity of the injury, we can expect one or a possible committee of Pancoast, Holland, and Bowers to attempt to develop needed chemistry with quarterback Trace McSorley in Evanston.