In the Sun Devils' home opener against Sacramento State, the senior tight end picked up right where he left off in 2012 where his 57 receptions broke a school record for single-season tight end receptions. Last Thursday, the 6-3 240-pound Coyle hauled in two passes for 48 yards and a touchdown in 55-0 throttling of Sacramento State.
After the long and grueling off-season, Coyle said he was just excited to finally get to see a different uniform across the formation in the season opener.
"It was great to finally get out on the field," Coyle said. "One of the things that we did this offseason was we really picked it up in camp; we picked up the tempo, the physicality, so camp was definitely a grind. It was great to get out there and play people that weren't our defense, we have a lot of good players on our defense, but it was getting a little monotonous going head to head all the time with them.
"It was fun to be in that atmosphere with our fans and just finally put what we've been learning to work. Everybody was doing their job right and it was a good start to a new season."
Over the offseason, Chris Coyle was dedicated in the weight room and transformed his body to put on extra pounds yet stay the dynamic playmaker he was a year ago. After giving his new frame a test drive against the Hornets, Coyle came away encouraged by what he was able to accomplish with his new physique.
"The extra 15 pounds that I put on has helped me a lot with my blocking," Coyle explained, "just being able to get a little bit extra weight thrown into the block helps me move guys around a bit more.
"But while I was getting bigger I also focused on maintaining my speed, which I feel that I did so. I actually got faster in my testing and stuff, so overall I'm a better athlete now and it's definitely helping me out on the field."
Coyle was not alone among the tight ends that made strides in the offseason. Senior Darwin Rogers received high praise for his improvement, and the versatile junior college transfer De'Marieya Nelson picked up the offense fairly quickly in fall camp. Giving him a chance to make an impact in his first year as a Sun Devil.
All three recorded a catch in ASU's season opener and have solidified their group as one of the strongest units on the team. According to Coyle, these advancements have added a different element to this year's offense compared to 2012.
"This year we've incorporated multiple different tight end sets, with two, three different tight ends," Coyle remarked. "Last year defenses started to key in on me and the 3-back position, they actually started kind of knowing what play was going to be coming at them depending on where I lined up.
"So having multiple tight ends on the field it makes it so they can't key in on either one of us. So we can throw stuff at them from either side of the field and they don't know what to expect."
Not only are Coyle and the rest of the unit expected to produce in the passing game, but their run blocking is a key function of the position as well. While physicality and run blocking are important every game, it seems as though they should be even more paramount against the Badgers, who are known for their stout run defense.
"They have a great, physical front seven; big linemen, big backers, they're technically sound and everyone does their job," Coyle commented. "So we are going to have to go out there and have to be close to perfect, which is exactly what we've been practicing every day. Some of our guys might be a little bit smaller than theirs, but that's when we are going to use our speed, quickness and technical footwork to our advantage. So that'll be what gives us the upper hand and hopefully gets us that victory in the end."
The game against Wisconsin is part of a four-game stretch for the Devils in which three of the teams are currently in the top 25. Although he stressed that they are taking it one game at a time, Coyle feels confident in himself and his teammates to overcome this challenging portion of the 2013 schedule.
"We know that all of these teams are beatable and that we can beat them," Coyle said. "Our biggest competition is ourselves. If we make mental errors out there, that's what happened in some of our losses last year, we'd make a mental error and we'd give them the game.
"We know we are going to play hard, build some momentum and hope that caries us through the rest of the season."