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Notre Dame loses starting center

Notre Dame's offensive line suffered another blow in Saturday's 23-13 win over BYU.

Coach Brain Kelly said during his Sunday teleconference that starting center Nick Martin suffered a significant knee injury and will miss the No. 25 Irish's season finale at No. 8 Stanford (9-2) on Saturday as well as the bowl game.

"We're still getting a little more information," Kelly said. "We had an MRI. I'll probably have a little more specific details (Tuesday), but he's out for the season."

Notre Dame (8-3) will turn to Matt Hegarty to start at center. Hegarty played just more than three quarters against BYU, and Kelly said he liked what he saw from the 6-foot-4, 300-pound junior.

"I thought he did a pretty good job," Kelly said. "Certainly going in there first time against a 320-pound guy on his nose. He did not go against a four-down situation where he was uncovered. He had somebody on his nose virtually the entire three quarters that he was in there, snapped the ball without any mistakes

"I thought the big series for him was when we were backed up on our goal line, and he did a very good job under those conditions. I thought he held his own."

Hegarty is the second new starter the Irish have needed to use this season because of an injury.

Notre Dame lost right guard Christian Lombard after Week 7 when he had to undergo back surgery. The Irish turned to Steve Elmer to start in at right guard for three games and used Conor Hanratty there in Saturday's 23-13 win over BYU.

Notre Dame also called on Hanratty to start at left guard when Chris Watt couldn't play against Navy because of a knee injury in a 38-34 win over Nov. 2.

Kelly said sophomore Mark Harrell will backup Hegarty at center against Stanford, and the Irish could also use Hanratty or Watt at center.

"I think it could be an absolute disaster, right, if you think about the entire right side as well as missing Chris Watt for a game," Kelly said of the line being able to handle moving guys in and out because of injury. "You are talking about three or 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."

Kelly also said defensive lineman Kona Schwenke continues to battle a high ankle sprain, and the coach wasn't sure how much the senior will be able to do against Stanford.

"I would say he's still going to work on giving everything he has this weekend," Kelly said. "He'll still be able to compete. We'll just have to see how much he can give us on Saturday."

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