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Martin, Hegarty in battle for Irish center spot

Kyle Brindzboots field goal from 27 yards out with seven seconds left give Notre Dame victory over Purdue. | Michael

Kyle Brindza boots a field goal from 27 yards out with seven seconds left to give Notre Dame the victory over Purdue. | Michael Conroy~AP

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Updated: May 5, 2013 3:11PM



SOUTH BEND — Center has been one of the more intriguing position battles this spring for Notre Dame.

Nick Martin is getting more reps with the first group, Notre Dame offensive line/running game coordinator Harry Hiestand said Wednesday. Hiestand also said Matt Hegarty has done some “good things.”

“The good thing is we don’t have a game this weekend so we can give them the opportunity to get better,” Hiestand said. “That’s what they are doing. They are really focused on getting the ball to the quarterback. We’ve made a lot of progress since the first couple of days. As long as we keep doing that, we’ll be OK.”

Big plays: Special teams coordinator Scott Booker thinks the unit is capable of more game-changing plays this season.

“Let’s attack the ball, let’s tackle, let’s strip the ball, let’s try to get the ball back,” said Booker, who also coaches tight ends. “And also a game-changing play would be to down the ball inside the 5-yard line. Because then you really give the defense the opportunity to score, either with a safety, sack-fumble-touchdown, anything like that.”

Kyle Brindza has impressed as a punter. He’s also the kicker.

“The thing that excites us about Kyle is that you saw his leg strength and his ability to be good under pressure (23 of 31 on field goal attempts last season). That correlates with field-goal kicking, and it also correlates with punting,” Booker said. “Different motion, different technique. But we are working hard with him and improving those techniques.”

Working out: With temperatures in the 30s Wednesday morning, Notre Dame practiced indoors. The punters are still busy.

“It’s not just the end result of the punt,” Booker said. “There’s a lot that comes before the punt, with your plant foot, getting a great lift off your plant foot. Those are mechanics that can be worked with in the Loftus (or) on a basketball court. Those things you can work on every day.”



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