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Irish lose center

Notre Dame will play the rest of the season with a new starter in the middle of an offensive line that hasn't given up a sack in the last five games.

Center Braxston Cave's foot injury will require surgery and he will not play the rest of the season, coach Brian Kelly said during his Tuesday news conference.

Cave suffered the injury early in the second quarter in last Saturday's 24-17 victory over Wake Forest.

"It's a tough loss for us. Braxston's been a consistent performer for us over the past couple of years. We feel terrible for Braxston. He's given us everything over the past two years, but he will be back. That's the good part about it."

Mike Golic Jr. will start for Notre Dame (6-3) in this Saturday night's game against Maryland (2-7) at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. Golic will be backed up by Andrew Nuss, who will slide over from left guard.

"We have a great deal of confidence in Mike Golic," Kelly said. "Mike came in (against Wake Forest), played very well for us. When you look at the center position there is always a great concern because that guy is put in a very difficult situation."

The Irish will also be without slot receiver Theo Riddick this weekend. The junior has a hamstring injury, Kelly said.

Riddick is Notre Dame's third leading receiver with 34 receptions for 362 yards with three touchdowns.

"It's not as bad as we first thought," Kelly said. "We thought we had maybe a couple of week type of injury. It calmed down pretty good. He's tender today. That generally tells us he's four or five days until he's back to full speed."

Two defensive starters are expected to play, but they may not be at full speed.

Linebacker Manti Te'o and defensive end Aaron Lynch will be limited in practice this week because of ankle injuries, but they are expected to play against the Terrapins.

"Our ankle guys are our ankle guys. They'll answer the bell on Saturday," Kelly said. "We will just have to be smart with them during the week."

Notre Dame could get one of its players back this weekend as defensive end Ethan Johnson appears ready to return from an ankle injury.

The senior suffered a high-ankle sprain against Purdue on Oct. 1 and has missed the last four games. He started the first five games this season and has nine tackles.

"We are very confident Ethan Johnson is going to be able to play for us this weekend," Kelly said.

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.

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