New year, same old Rebels? Well, not quite, but Ole Miss went into Memphis and left with a 15-10 loss.

It was a rough start for new OC Rich Rodriguez, as the Ole Miss offense only managed 10 points on the day and only amassed 173 total yards.

Meanwhile, a much-maligned Ole Miss defense only allowed 13 points (2 came on a safety) in the first game under DC Mike MacIntyre.

So what should we take away from the season opening loss?

Slow start

Ole Miss got off to a rough start offensively, going 3-and-out on its first possession. Through 2 possessions, the Rebels had -9 total yards. They finished the first quarter with 2 rushing yards on 9 attempts while possessing the ball for less than 6 minutes.

The Memphis touchdown drive was extended thanks to a questionable unnecessary roughness call against an Ole Miss defender:

That led to this touchdown run by QB Brady White:

That was the only score in the first quarter.

At halftime, the score was 13-0 Memphis, and let’s just say Ole Miss’s halftime stats weren’t pretty, with a total of -1 rushing yards:

Poor line play

Saturday was QB Matt Corral’s first game as Ole Miss’s full-time starter. It was tough to get a good read on him in the first half, since the Rebels’ offensive line struggled mightily.

Adding to the struggles, Alex Givens — the only Ole Miss tackle with any starting experience — was taken out of the game with an apparent injury. He returned later.

Corral ended 9-for-19 passing for 93 yards and 1 interception. He ran for 17 yards.

Poor play calling

It was a rough debut for new OC Rich Rodriguez, who made some questionable decisions on Saturday. The running game struggled all day, Corral was under pressure a lot and there wasn’t much success all around.

However, the play call that took the cake came with 6:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, when RichRod called a passing play out of the shotgun formation with Corral standing deep in his own end zone.

The result? A sack, a safety and 2 points for the Tigers, extending their lead to 15-10.

They then got the ball back and killed the clock to hold on to the victory.

Defensive improvement

While it wasn’t a good start for RichRod, MacIntyre’s defense fared much better. Giving up only 13 points was huge for a team that gave up a lot more on average last season.

The Rebels kept playing on that side of the ball even as the offense struggled, and that’s a good sign moving forward.