KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KSNT) – The MIAA held its annual football media day in Kansas City on Tuesday, and Emporia State took the time to talk about how the Hornets’ veteran team has improved over the offseason.

Emporia State finished with a 6-6 record the past year, but five of the losses came down to a touchdown or less. Head coach Garin Higgins says the team has been looking closely at how to flip those close losses into wins.

“Where did we make those critical mistakes at to cost us the game?” Higgins said. “Was it a turnover? Was it an undisciplined penalty? Was it poor tackling? Was it a big play? All those things and think these are the areas we need to improve, so we don’t let it happen again.”

Linebacker Dawson Hammes says the defense has improved over the offseason, as the team got its first trip around the sun with defensive secondary coach Eriq Moore. It’s also the first season with linebacker coach Jace McDown.

“We got coach Moore, in his second year, being more familiar with his players,” Hammes said. “We got coach McDown in the linebacker room now. So, it didn’t feel any different than when he was on the field. He felt like a coach at the time. We got a lot to prove because last year, that was kind of our weakness a little bit, defense, back side of the ball. Raising the standard and finding ways to get better. Everyday.”

Quarterback Braden Gleason has been able to spend his first offseason as the starting quarterback working with other players. The past summer, the quarterback position was up for grabs until the season started.

“We got about 90 percent of our team up there in the summer, so you’re always doing stuff or player-led stuff,” Gleason said. “It makes us closer as a team.”

Higgins says that he is fielding a team that should be fun to watch this fall. The team will feature a high-powered offense, but a disciplined team overall.

“You’re going to see excitement,” Higgins said. “I think you’re going to see a physical team. You know, you want to be a physical football team. Be a team offensively that plays with tempo, tries to score as many points as we can score. A team that plays with great effort.”