STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Penn State safety Nick Sukay is out for the year with a torn pectoral muscle in the latest setback for a struggling team hit by a spate of injuries.
Coach Joe Paterno said Tuesday that Sukay's season was done after the junior got hurt during a tackle on Illinois' Jack Ramsey on the opening kickoff of last week's 33-13 loss to the Illini. Sukay had a team-high three interceptions.
Sukay is the third starter to go down in as many games, following right tackle Lou Eliades (right knee) and tight end Garry Gilliam (left knee). The team said at least 13 Nittany Lions who would be first- or second-stringers on the depth chart have missed time due to injuries.
DE Eric Latimore (left wrist), WR Curtis Drake (left leg) and TE Andrew Szczerba (back) will each be out at least another two weeks. Drake and Szczerba, expected to be key contributors, have yet to play this season.
At least 13 players who would be first- or second-stringers on the depth chart have missed time due to injuries. Paterno said Tuesday this may be the team's worst injury situation "in the 20 years some of our medical people have been here."
Linebacker Michael Mauti is also listed as possible with a right ankle injury.
Penn State is off Saturday and next plays at Minnesota on Oct. 23.
Key players listed as possible for that game include DE Jack Crawford (right foot); S Andrew Dailey (stinger); LB Bani Gbadyu (left calf); DT Jordan Hill (right ankle); and LB Gerald Hodges (left leg).
"We've got to overcome them," Paterno said. "We can't be sitting around moaning about it all the time. People ask me. I didn't bring it up."
Also, two key reserves — end Sean Stanley and nickelback Derrick Thomas — have missed the last two games because of unspecified off-field issues. Their availability the rest of the season remains unclear.