I've taken a look into my crystal ball, and here are three predictions for BYU in 2011:
1. BYU will beat Ole Miss to open the season. This is one of the biggest games the school has played because of its magnitude. The Cougars cannot afford to start Year 1 as an independent with a loss on national television to a team that is predicted to finish last in the SEC West. Not only do I think BYU will be extra-motivated and extra-prepared, I also think the Cougars have an advantage at quarterback with Jake Heaps. There is depth at running back, too, which should help open up a play-action game. Although there is a concern about playing in the heat and humidity, plenty of teams have traveled East and handled that. I just think BYU is a better overall team, and that will show Sept. 3.
2. Heaps will pass for 3,000 yards. Last season was a blip at BYU, where quarterbacks are almost expected to throw for 3,000 yards. In fact, 2010 was the first time since 2004 that BYU did not have a 3,000-yard passer. The new offense under coordinator Brandon Doman should open up the passing game for Heaps. What also will help is a stable of receivers who have plenty of talent. Watch for Ross Apo, a 6-foot-3, 202-pound receiver who redshirted last season. He, Cody Hoffman and McKay Jacobson should have productive seasons.
3. Linebacker Uona Kaveinga will turn heads. Given how many national television appearances the Cougars will make this season, Kaveinga will show everybody why BYU has raved about him during the spring and fall. Kaveinga initially committed to BYU out of high school but changed his mind and signed with USC. Two years later, he decided to transfer to BYU. Kaveinga sat out last season because of NCAA transfer rules but is now ready to start at middle linebacker. At 5-11 and 255 pounds, Kaveinga has a knack for being all over the place on defense. In football speak, he has a nose for the ball. His presence should be a huge upgrade to the BYU linebackers.