Notre Dame’s opener against Purdue  on September 4th will mark the beginning of a brave new era for the Fighting Irish football team, or the continuation of a bad one.

The Irish hope to pick up the ashes from a dismal era under Charlie Weis. It was an era marked by poor performance, low team morale, and a sense that something great - the traditional Fighting Irish football spirit - had been lost.

Yet the team has drawn fresh vim and vigor from new head coach Brian Kelly, who  leads by example, and has already established an enviable rapport with the players, who are fired up with the sense that this time things will be different.

Dayne Crist - the Fighting Irish’s new quarterback - is the key. If  he clicks, this can be a great season; if not, it may be another  disaster.

Coach Kelly is most worried about Crist, who may be injury-prone. Opposing defences will know if they can knock him out of the game that Notre Dame has no depth at the most vital position in the game.

He’ll have good talent to throw to, thankfully for the Irish.  Michael Floyd, Duval Kamara, Deion Walker, T.J. Jones, and tight end Kyle Rudolph are among the best in the collegiate game, and Crist is said to have been “on fire” in training.

The head coach has already embarked on an impressive recruiting pre-season for 2011 which still isn’t over, according to speculation.

But Notre Dame needs to win now.

And it all starts on September 4th at 3.30, when the 2010 version of the Fighting Irish wakes up the echoes at the famous old stadium.