SOUTH BEND, Ind. — In Ben Koyack's estimation, his greatest improvement this season has come as a run blocker.
That improvement has allowed Notre Dame to line up in two tight end sets quite a bit this fall, but it's also opened up Koyack for more chances to catch the ball.
Koyack caught his first career touchdown Oct. 5 against Arizona State and reeled in another on Saturday against Air Force. He's came to Notre Dame as an excellent receiving tight end, but this year has begun to marry that with solid run blocking.
And with that, he's seen the field more.
"He's a guy that has really earned the trust of the coaching staff," coach Brian Kelly said. "… He's really, really stepped up in so many years: maturity, work ethic. He started off last year, if you go back to the first game of the year against Navy, dropped a couple easy passes, and never really got his confidence back. This year he's got his confidence."
Koyack repeatedly emphasized he still has plenty of work to do, both as a run blocker and pass catcher. But he's been relied upon in a number of high-leverage situations this year, and his touchdown against Arizona State gave Notre Dame its first lead of the game.
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"We have a great receiving corps, we have a bunch of receivers around the field," Koyack said. "Whatever I can do to help the offense and get on the field, that's what I try to do."
For Kelly, he thinks Koyack has just scratched the surface of his potential.
"It's nice to see him developing because I really think that he's got so much more out there that he's going to be able to give to this offense," Kelly said.