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Notre Dame

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New man manning middle of Irish line

Cave

– 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.

Senior 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, who has a year of eligibility remaining because of an injury as a freshman, was injured in the second quarter of 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 Saturday night’s game against Maryland (2-7) at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. Golic will be backed up by Andrew Nuss.

“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. He will be replaced by Robby Toma.

“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.”

Linebacker Manti Te’o and defensive end Aaron Lynch will be limited in practice this week because of ankle injuries but 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 has nine tackles.

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

tkrausz@jg.net

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