The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will kick off their new season on Saturday, September 1 against Navy with new hopes of greatness for their upcoming season.
Make no mistake about it: the Irish will need a lot to go their way in order to make a dent in the college football scene and while that won't be easy, there are some players who can help make that happen.
Here are some of the most important players to watch for the Irish this season.
As the star of the Irish offense, this team's passing attack will go as far as Eifert will take them.
The 6'6" tight end will look to make up for the incredibly tough loss dealt to Notre Dame thanks to Michael Floyd's departure to the NFL. The Irish had a suspect receiving corps already and the loss of Floyd will only make it worse.
On top of that, Eifert will be instrumental in helping the Irish bring along their new quarterback, Everett Golson. First time starters will often use their tight end as a security blanket until they get their feet under them, and Eifert is some security blanket.
In 2011, Eifert was a Mackey Award finalist with 63 receptions for 803 yards and five touchdowns. Without a No. 1 target like Floyd in the mix, Eifert should easily eclipse those numbers this season and once again place himself as one of the best tight ends in the nation.
As a first-time starter, Golson will have his work cut out for him trying to navigate his way through some of the tougher teams on Notre Dame's schedule, but he will have help.
Golson will have one of the best tight ends in the country to throw the ball to, but that will be offset by a lack of receivers to distribute to. Still, as long as Golson can get the Irish into the red zone, he'll have Eifert there waiting to finish the job.
Which of these three players is most important to Notre Dame's success in 2012?
Golson's athleticism makes him a huge threat to run, whether it's drawn up or as a result of the pocket breaking down. That should help Notre Dame avoid sacks they normally wouldn't be able to.
As far as accuracy is concerned, Golson has it when he can get the necessary time in the pocket. In the Irish Blue-Gold game, Golson was 11-of-15 for 120 yards and two scores.
This year will be a work in progress for Golson and while there will be some growing pains, Golson has flashed some talent in his short time with the team and at the very least, should make Notre Dame competitive week in and week out.
Slaughter will be a huge part of the Irish defense in 2012, aiding in multiple facets.
At safety in 2011, Slaughter had 45 tackles and even notched an interception. Notre Dame's safety has a great nose for the ball and will easily help shore up their pass defense.
With his big frame, Slaughter can also help the Irish stop the run, making him one of the more versatile players on defense. Don't be surprised if you see Slaughter rush the line on more than one occasion per game, creating huge headaches for opposing coaches and quarterbacks.
Slaughter's experience will make him an instant leader on defense and while all the attention and high expectations will be on Notre Dame's front line on defense, don't sleep on Slaughter playing behind them.