With both standout receivers Jaelen Strong and D.J. Foster being dinged up heading into the Washington State game in Pullman on Halloween night, there’s a good chance that Coyle will be able to have more of an impact in the passing game, similar to the type of performances he put up in 2012.
“Yes,” Coyle said referring to whether or not he expects to have a bigger role in the offense on Thursday. “But I just look to make any play that comes my way, that’s my job. (Taylor Kelly) and I have been connecting all week on certain routes. I have talked to Jaelen and he’s saying he’s feeling better, and D.J. always does a great job at coming out and playing at his top level in game time. So whoever is in, whoever is out, I’m just going to be doing my job and running my routes and executing.”
While Coyle’s numbers aren’t staggeringly different when comparing, there has been a decline in the volume of production.
Through seven games in 2012, Coyle was averaging a little over 63 yards a game and had already recorded 35 catches. With the same amount of games under his belt this season, Coyle has only 18 catches so far and is averaging less than 44 yards per game.
With that being said, Coyle still feels that he’s positively influencing the offense, and that his role is just a bit different this season.
“I’m very comfortable with my production,” Coyle said. “I’ve been told it’s not as many receptions as last year but that doesn’t bother me at all. The biggest thing with me this season is I knew that teams were going to key on me more. It’s all about being patient, I know TK is going to find me when I’m open. I’m just going to keep running my routes, keep doing my job getting open and I know he’s going to find me.
“The difference between this year and last year is we have got a lot more consistency on the receiving corps. Guys are making plays and it’s good because it works both ways. He’s going to swing it out to Jaelen or Kevin Ozier and they’ve done a great job of catching the ball down field and that opens me up as well so we work back and forth.”
There’s going to be an opportunity for Coyle to pad the stats against a weak Washington State pass defense that ranks 11th in the Pac-12. The Cougars (4-4, 2-3) have had a couple of games in which they played tough against quality opponents, but in three of their last four games they have allowed 52 points or more.
There’s no such thing as an easy road game in college football, and too many teams have found that to be true this year.
Las Vegas has the Sun Devils as an 11.5 point favorite, but seeing as the game is on Halloween night, spooky things are most certainly a possibility. Arizona State hasn’t won a road game yet in 2013, losing to both Stanford and Notre Dame. So while ASU may be the more talented team, there’s no overlooking the importance of this game and the implications it could have on their season.
“That’s what we need,” Coyle said of a road win. “We understand how the atmosphere is going to be and we are just preparing them throughout the week. There’s going to be a lot of noise, that’s what we have been working on in the bubble. There’s going to be a lot of distractions and we just have to focus on what we have to do, and block all of that out.”
The last time Arizona State traveled to Pullman, the Sun Devils suffered a heartbreaking loss to a far less superior Cougar team, losers of their last five games heading into that tilt two years ago.
While that’s looming in the back of some of the players’ minds that were there to experience it like Coyle himself, he knows that Graham has this team much more prepared to win.
“There’s a lot more mental focus on this team,” Coyle said. “We have tasted a little bit of success but we want more of it. These coaches have done a great job all season of just making sure we are keeping our heads in the game and eyes on the prize.”