3-8, 3-8, 3-8, 0-11, 1-10, and 3-8. That’s a combined record of 13-53 for the University of Nebraska at Kearney football team since joining the MIAA in 2012. When Head Coach Josh Lynn took over in 2017, the team had won one game in two years. This season, the Lopers have a record of 4-5. To the common eye, it isn’t glamorous, but diving deep into this teams number and the way they have played this season, the improvement is amazing and evident.
This Loper team started 2-0 for the first time since 2011 when UNK went 10-2 and made the playoffs while in the RMAC. Those first two wins of the season, fans saw right away that the program was beginning to turn the corner.
This season the Lopers have lost three games to ranked opponents by a combined 30 points, an average of 10 points per game. Being competitive is a big facet of the game, and this Loper team has shown how competitive they are. The latest loss to a ranked opponent came to at the time #25 Fort Hays State 29-26 in double overtime. A true heartbreak. Head Coach Josh Lynn said this team picked him up after the tough loss. “I walked into Sunday’s meeting pouting, you know, they uplifted me a lot more then I did for them,” said Lynn.
Lynn also has loved the growth of this team during the season as well. “It’s been good. Coming in, there really hasn’t been a game we haven’t been in. You know, now the next step is to learn how to win those games. I’m extremely happy with the way we have developed and the way we have come along. It’s time to take that next step and start winning those type of football games.”
One of the most refreshing aspects of this Loper team is the identity on both sides of the ball is clear. They are going to run the ball on offense, and they are going to attack you on defense.
In 2016, prior to Lynn taking the reins, UNK was 1-10. They averaged 21.7 points per game while allowing 37.6. They averaged 107.4 rush yards per game while allowing 206.7 and they threw for 219.9 yards per game and allowed 237.1 yards.
In Lynn’s first season, the points per game were lower at 16.7, but they were allowing 30.6, a seven-point improvement. UNK ran the ball for 144.1 yards per game and threw it for 156.7 yards per game. They stopped the run at a high rate allowing just 125.3 yards per game, the pass defense allowed more yardage at 242.2 yards, but the secondary of a defense is always the toughest to change.
This season, all of the numbers show improvement. The Lopers are averaging 30.4 points per game, UNK is running the ball for 267.3 yards per game and throwing it for 136.2 yards. On the defensive side, they are allowing 21.8 points per game and allowing just 133.8 rush yards per game and 194.1 pass yards per game. UNK is also outscoring their opponents in each quarter of regulation by an average of 8.6 points. The proof of improvement is right there.
With just two games remaining in the season, the Lopers have a chance to capture a winning season for the first time since 2011. Soon enough, if this Loper team continues to trend up in the near future they will be competing in the top tier of the prestigious MIAA conference. UNK will host Missouri Western on Saturday morning at 11 am and that game can be heard on 93.1 KRVN FM and krvn.com.