Each week, The Rebel Walk’s Jeff Tetrick takes a look at the Ole Miss Postgame Points, examining five takeaways from the Rebels’ most recent football game. Here are his Postgame Points from the game against Memphis.
1. One Game
Ole Miss dropped its season-opening game to Memphis by a count of 15-10 at the Liberty Bowl on Saturday. The first game of the season is rarely a masterpiece, especially when a team is young and breaking in a lot of new faces and new coordinators. Ole Miss has a lot of areas where improvement and growth will come as the season moves forward.
Ole Miss was in the game and had a chance to win the game all the way to the end. The execution was not perfect in game one, but the effort was there. The Rebels were not able to pull out a victory, but it is important to remember that this is just one game in a long season. The coaches and players will work hard to get better, and this team will grow week by week. The goal of bowl eligibility is still there in front of this young squad.
2. Defensive Effort
The Rebel defense allowed just 13 points to Memphis on Saturday. It is the fewest points the Ole Miss defense has given up since a 38-13 win over Wofford during the 2016 season. This was an outstanding defensive effort in the opener, considering that Memphis averaged more than 42 points per game a season ago with a returning quarterback that passed for over 3,200 yards last year. It is an encouraging sign that the defense limited a high-octane Tiger offense to 13 points and 172 passing yards for the game.
In terms of tackles, the Rebels were led by Josiah Coatney, Lakia Henry, and Keidron Smith with 7 tackles apiece. Ryder Anderson and Jon Haynes each registered 6 tackles for Ole Miss, while Jalen Julius added 5 stops. MoMo Sanogo and Jaylon Jones recorded 4 tackles each, and Benito Jones intercepted a Memphis pass.
3. Tackles For Loss
The Rebel defense was able to put pressure on Memphis quarterback Brady White throughout the day. Ole Miss had 3 quarterback hurries and 2 sacks in the game. What stood out most about the defense, however, was the 8 tackles for loss. Luke Knox and Jaylon Jones had 2 tackles for loss apiece.
Josiah Coatney, Quentin Bivens, Ryder Anderson, Benito Jones, and Tariqious Tisdale also got in on the action with tackles for loss against the Tigers. When the defense can create negative plays against the opposing offense, it makes it much easier to get off the field by forcing longer third-down conversion attempts.
Punter Mac Brown had a nice start to his season against Memphis. The junior from Minnesota punted 5 times on Saturday and averaged 46.8 yards per punt. His longest punt of the day went for 54 yards.
A good punter is capable of flipping field position in a game and pinning the opposition deep in its own territory. Fans often overlook the importance of this position. Brown had a good sophomore campaign for Ole Miss. After the opener, it appears he will be successful again this fall and be a weapon for the Ole Miss special teams unit.
5. Red Zone
Ole Miss reached the red zone just twice against Memphis on Saturday. Yet, the Rebels made the most of each opportunity by scoring a touchdown and field goal to account for all 10 points scored against the Tigers.
Going forward, Ole Miss needs to move the ball down the field to create more scoring chances. As the season progresses and the offense grows, hopefully, the Rebels will continue this trend of putting points on the board when in the red zone.
Ole Miss hosts Arkansas in the home opener at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday night. The Razorbacks edged FCS Portland State 20-13 in Fayetteville to start the season at 1-0. Ole Miss won the most recent matchup with Arkansas 37-33 in Little Rock last October. The Razorbacks defeated the Rebels 38-37 the last time these teams played in Oxford in 2017.