Matt Rhule knows Nebraska’s offense was not up to par in 2023. That was evident to everyone who watched the Huskers, but Rhule has a key group circled as the key to the turnaround.

To the surprise of some, that position is not at quarterback.

During his summer update on Thursday, Rhule spoke glowingly about the wide receiver group Nebraska has compiled for 2024. In fact, the head coach referred to the group as likely to be one of Nebraska’s strongest positions with the potential to be 8-10 players deep.

“There’s just really good people in that room. And they’re highly, highly talented. I think it’s going to be one of our strongest positions this year, and I think we’re going to be like 8, 9, 10 deep,” said Rhule. “And there are some freshmen who maybe will redshirt this year, but if something happens like it did last year where guys get banged up, they’re going to be ready to play.”

Rhule even outlined how he believes Marcus Satterfield and Garret McGuire helped develop the group during the rough season of 2023. As a result, young players like Malachi Coleman and Jaylen Lloyd who were forced into action in 2023 are primed to make a larger impact alongside some new faces.

It’s a group Rhule was adamant Nebraska needs to play at a high level in order for the offense to reach its full potential:

“If we want to be good, (we need) that group. We’re going to be able to run the ball,” Rhule claimed. “We might not be able to run the ball against some of the boxes we saw last year… We want to be able to line up and run the ball against 2-high safety looks, and if you try to play 1 high or try to zone us, we’re going to absolutely murder you. And you need players to do that.”

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Analyzing Matt Rhule’s claim

There’s no denying Nebraska’s passing offense was disastrous a season ago. The Huskers averaged 135.9 yards per game, a mark that ranked 129th in the country. The only teams worse in that category were Iowa and a trio of service schools that predominantly utilize the triple-option offense.

On the surface, a QB trio that combined to throw 16 interceptions to go with multiple costly fumbles received the brunt of the criticism. That criticism is certainly warranted, but analyzing the WR room certainly shows an area that left a lot to be desired.

Injuries were a key culprit that cannot be overlooked. Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda suffered a season-ending injury early on, and Marcus Washington also went down in October. The absences of Gabe Ervin Jr. and Rahmir Johnson, though running backs, also brought the offense down.

There’s no denying QB play must improve, but the wide receivers need to perform better as well. And Nebraska added more key transfers to pull off that improvement. Jahmal Banks, a veteran from Wake Forest with back-to-back 600-yard seasons, and Isaiah Neyor, a fellow veteran from Wyoming and Texas, will try to deliver key performances within the group.

All eyes will be on Dylan Raiola under center, and that comes with the territory as a 5-star QB. But it will be up to the WR group to help the offense reach its full potential if the Huskers want to turn things around and reach a bowl game this fall.