Notre Dame suffered a big loss along the offensive line this past weekend after head coach Brian Kelly announced that senior center Braxston Cave would be out for the rest of the year.
“Braxston Cave will be out for the season,” Kelly said during his weekly Tuesday press conference. Kelly did not, however, go into great detail about the extent of Cave’s injury. “I don’t have the technical information for you other than to tell you that they’ve got to go in there and repair a ligament, and so he’ll be lost for the year,” he would add.
With Cave out for the rest of the year. Senior Mike Golic Jr will step into a starting role for the first time in his career at Notre Dame. Golic came off the bench for Cave this past weekend against Wake Forest and filled in more than admirably considering his lack of playing time before this weekend as Kelly noted on Tuesday. “We’ve got a great deal of confidence in Mike Golic. Mike came in, played very well for us.”
To round out the two deep at center, 5th year senior Andrew Nuss will slide over to the backup center position from left guard. He will take a lot of snaps at center this week to be ready just in case something were to happen to Golic. The domino effect here is with Nuss moving over to center, sophomore Bruce Heggie will step into the two deep at left guard.
Even with Heggie moving into the official two deep though, I would expect that
Cave has been a starter for the past three seasons for Notre Dame and is the leader of the offensive line so his loss will definitely be felt. With two weaker opponents on the docket the next two weeks, the Irish should still be in fine shape for those two contests, but the daunting task of knocking off still undefeated Stanford on Thanksgiving weekend just got that much harder.
The next three weeks will be a proving grounds of sorts for Golic Jr. Many did not give him much thought as a potential 5th year senior next season, but after his somewhat surprising performance against Wake Forest, he has a three game audition to make a case for another season in South Bend. Even with a strong performance though, it could come down to a numbers game based on how well the Irish close in recruiting.
Cave also has an additional year of eligibility since he only played one game as a freshman before suffering an injury that caused him to sit out the rest of the season.