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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Josh Lynn is entering his third season as the University of Nebraska at Kearney football coach.

The program has increased its win total each year under Lynn and now hopes to produce its first winning season since 2011.

After finishing seventh in the league standings with a 5-6 record last season, the Lopers tallied a ninth-place finish in the 12-team preseason coaches and media polls, the MIAA announced Wednesday.

"Since I’ve been there, we’ve always been the guys, the team in that stands watching everyone else play," said Lynn at MIAA Media Day. "In regards to that, we are looking to hopefully change that as we move forward here."

Most of the Lopers’ key defensive players are returning from last year’s unit that allowed the fourth-fewest yards per game in the MIAA. With the defense in tack, it will be UNK’s offense that dictates the success of this year’s team.

Last year, the Lopers led the league in rushing, averaging 268.9 yards per game, while their passing game was mediocre at best, sitting second-last with 128.6 passing yards per game.

Alex McGinnis started all 11 games last season in his first full year as the starting quarterback. He threw for 1,364 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also completed just 50 percent of his passing attempts.

McGinnis did rank second on the Lopers with 471 rushing yards, but Lynn has made it clear since last season ended that the passing game needs to progress this fall.

"With what we do rushing the ball, you can ask any of these coaches in the room today, we are going to run the football," Lynn said. "To counter that, we have to be better throwing the ball. We have an explosive offense, but with that explosive offense, the play-action game has to be part of what we do. That’s something we need to improve on."

The Lopers have 46 upperclassmen on this season’s roster and return 14 starters from last year’s team. They begin fall practice Aug. 12 and open the season against Missouri Southern at 6 p.m. Sept. 5 in Joplin, Mo.

@DanZielinski3

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