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Knee injury claims another Notre Dame lineman for season

Tommy Rees Nick Martin

Tommy Rees, Nick Martin

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Updated: November 24, 2013 8:39PM

An injury has cost Notre Dame another starting
offensive lineman for the season.

Center Nick Martin will miss the regular-season
finale Saturday against Stanford and the Irish’s bowl game after suffering a ‘‘significant’’ knee injury in the team’s 23-13 victory Saturday against BYU, coach Brian Kelly said Sunday.

Martin started Notre Dame’s first 11 games this season. Matt Hegarty
replaced him in the first quarter against BYU and played the rest of the game.

‘‘I thought [Hegarty] did a pretty good job,’’ Kelly said during a teleconference. ‘‘He had somebody on his nose virtually the entire three quarters that he was in there. He snapped the ball without any mistakes.’’

This isn’t the first time the Irish have had to adjust their offensive line this season. Right guard Christian Lombard started the first seven games, then suffered a season-ending back injury. Steve Elmer replaced him for the next three games, and Conor Hanratty started against BYU.

‘‘We do a great job of stepping up when our number is called,’’ left tackle Zack Martin said Saturday. ‘‘Matt Hegarty was another good example. We’ve had some other guys — Conor and Steve — who have done that this season. Matt is another great example.’’

Notre Dame didn’t allow a sack against BYU and has surrendered only seven all season.

‘‘It could be an absolute disaster,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘If you think about the entire right side, as well as missing [left guard] Chris Watt for a game [against Navy], you’re talking about three and four different guys going in there on the offensive line at times. [Offensive line] coach [Harry] Hiestand has done an incredible job of putting this together as a unit.

‘‘I’ll go back to their ­summer workouts. They ­really worked hard together. That unit mentality has
really served us well. Matt Hegarty going in at center and rotating Conor Hanratty and Steve Elmer at right guard, that says a lot about the unit and playing a lot of guys there and playing ­effectively.’’

NOTES: Notre Dame picked up an oral commitment from quarterback Blake Barnett of Santiago High School in Corona,
Calif. The 6-4, 200-pound Barnett is the second player in the Irish’s recruiting class of 2015, joining offensive lineman Jerry Tillery, who made an oral commitment in June.

† Notre Dame is ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press’ Top 25.


Twitter: @lamondpope

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