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Injuries force Irish to alter lines

Matthew DeFranks | Saturday, October 26, 2013

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Notre Dame was forced to shuffle around its offensive line due to injuries Saturday.

Earlier in the week, junior right guard Christian Lombard was ruled out for the rest of the season due to a back injury. Freshman Steve Elmer earned the start in his place against Air Force on Satruday.

The injuries got worse when graduate student left guard Chris Watt left the game in the second quarter. Junior Conor Hanratty filled in for Watt. Irish coach Brian Kelly said Watt suffered a sprained knee but played a few plays in the second half.

Sophomore right tackle Ronnie Stanley also left the game in the second half. Elmer shifted over to right tackle while junior Matt Hegarty came in at right guard.

“I’ve never, in my four years of playing here, where we had to play so many guys,” graduate student left tackle Zack Martin said.

Senior quarterback Tommy Rees said the makeshift offensive line played well.

“We had a lot of guys that came in and out of the game,” Rees said. “I’m excited about their opportunities to play and they did a good job stepping up.”

Notre Dame’s defensive line depth was also tested when sophomore defensive end Sheldon Day limped off the field in the second quarter. The Irish were already without starting senior nose guard Louis Nix, who did not travel due to knee tendinitis.

Kelly said he would know more about the injuries in the coming days.