the_excerpt filter with an empty excerpt

How do I adjust the post excerpt when the excerpt itself is blank / empty? I looked and the code for the the_excerpt filter tests for empty and if the excerpt is empty returns before apply_filters is called which probably makes sense for most cases. I want to set a “default” excerpt if possible.

https://core.trac.wordpress.org/browser/tags/4.7/src/wp-includes/post-template.php#L380

I’m assuming there is another way to adjust the excerpt but I have yet to find it. Thank you!

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