In the Sun Devils' first season in offensive coordinator Mike Norvell's offense, not everything went by the book.
Taylor Kelly wasn't supposed to win the starting quarterback job, Marion Grice and D.J. Foster weren't expected to supplant Cameron Marshall, and tight end Chris Coyle definitely wasn't going to rewrite any records.
Instead, the Arizona State offense became one of the driving forces behind the Sun Devils' success as the team put up more than 40 points in six of its 13 games.
One of the pleasant surprises was the playmaking ability of the 3-back and tight end Coyle who recorded an Arizona State tight end record with 57 catches in the 2012 campaign.
Of all the returning starters on offense, Coyle might have the toughest time repeating his success as defenses began to key on the versatile junior as the season went along.
Sun Devil opponents focused on stopping the dangerous receiving threat, and spring practices have allowed Coach Norvell to devise a scheme that will combat this issue.
"Defenses are starting to key a little bit on the 3-back in our offense which is one of the reasons why we started to incorporate a new formation into our offense," Coyle said. "Darwin Rogers is doing a really great job stepping up and we'll go more double-tight with two tight end formations so the defense doesn't really know which one of us is getting the ball and which side of the field the ball is going to."
For Arizona State to thrive with two tight ends on the field, both Coyle and Rogers must hone their blocking skills.
"3-backs and tight ends are working a lot on being physical up front and blocking like linemen and being able to get out and catch like a receiver," Coyle said.
To go along with his 57 catches, Coyle recorded 696 receiving yards, which was far and away a team-high. His five touchdown receptions proved he is a natural target for Taylor Kelly in the red zone, but now, he has a different set of goals.
"It's just being physical. That's the main thing these coaches have focused on," Coyle said. "Our team got away from it a little at the end of the season and we started spreading things out a little more but we really want to be known as a power offense."
At 6-foot-3 and 222 lbs., the rising senior is actually undersized at a position that demands freakish athleticism and a wide range of skills.
Coyle strives to be a go-to option in the passing game, but he also hopes Coach Norvell opts to run the ball his way when the 3-backs are called upon to block.
"I caught passes well last year, I feel that I blocked well last year, but the biggest thing with my size going up against bigger guys, I really gotta focus on my technique and quickness because that's how I beat those guys," Coyle said.
Last season, Coyle took the field in every possible alignment to keep his opponents guessing. Whether the junior split wide as a receiver or motioned through the backfield prior to the play, he could always be counted upon to come up with a big play.
As the Sun Devil offense continues to develop into a dominant rushing attack, Coyle pledges to sacrifice receptions in order to block for his teammates.
When the fall rolls around, expect Coyle to return to form by catching passes and laying blocks in the eager and determined manner he displayed last season.
"We got one record broken from last year and we're hoping to break a couple more records," Coyle said. "Our coach is saying every day that we have to be the most physical guys out on the field, offense and defense. We have to be the guys that make the plays."