"The first thing we saw was that we need to play with more effort," McGee said. "We were not playing at a pace as fast as we can play.
"Some guys played hard, but we didn't play hard consistently. We want to play with our hair on fire."
Wide receiver Jarius Wright said the same thing after Tuesday's workout as the Hogs prepped for New Mexico and a 6 p.m. kickoff in Little Rock this week. And Wright said it was only somewhat better in Tuesday's workout. As a captain, Wright said his job was to hold teammates accountable.
"We'll talk about that before we practice again," Wright said. "We can't let that continue. We have to play hard consistently on every snap.
"For example, as wide receivers we made some blocks Saturday night to help our running backs, but we didn't make them all or we would have had some big plays. I got some blocks, but there were some I didn't get. It was the same for everybody, probably. The receivers have to do more in the run game. We've got to get the run game going and finish the plays."
"They had their assignments right except for two or three plays," he said. "It was pretty good. But there were two or three plays they got beat underneath. But we were not happy with the run game. We have to sustain blocks. We have to anticipate the defensive scheme better and we have to give our running backs larger holes."
The running backs came under criticism. McGee liked the effort and praised the backs for the way they handled contact, but he thought they might have looked for contact instead of trying to miss.
"We have to win the one-on-one battles," McGee said. "We challenged our backs to beat the last man. I was hard on Ronnie after the game. He was waiting some instead of attacking. I expect him to have a big game Saturday. De'Anthony Curtis was waiting on something to happen. He has to win the one-on-one battle. I want our backs to go attack the last man."
Wright said he loved the opening formation Saturday night, a set with no running backs, no tight ends and five wide receivers. He said it was a complement to the deep group at wideout and perhaps a sign of things to come.
"I think that's going to be a great formation for us this year," Wright said. "It's my favorite formation. With this many receivers, it gives everyone a chance to play. I think the coaches like it, too."
Senior wideout Greg Childs smiled when that formation was mentioned Tuesday.
"Yeah, we've got a lot of receivers and that puts a lot of us on the field at the same time," he said. "So, yes, we all like that one a lot. We have a lot of athletes. I'm not sure the defense can hold all of us down at the same time."
Childs admitted he smiled when he grabbed his first pass of the game -- the first since going down to knee surgery midway through last year.
"You hear your name called in the huddle, you get excited," he said. "Then, you tell yourself, there is no reason to be nervous or anything. You've been here before. You've caught a lot of passes. Just go catch one more. But it did feel pretty good."
The crowd roared. And Wright said everyone on the sideline heard it.
"We kinda did," Wright said. "You would have thought it was a touchdown. It was great to see my good friend back and finally get his first ball in about, well, almost a year. It was just great being out there and he was happy. When a friend is happy, you are happy.
"It has been good to see him smiling because once he went down there was a whole bunch of frowns."
Wright said it's been good to see Childs work his way back into practices this fall.
"It was a struggle for him at the start, but we've got the old Greg Childs back now," Wright said. "He had to get himself back into playing shape. He'd run a few routes, then we'd let him take some downs off. But he's full go now, 100 percent and it's great to see."
McGee said he's been pleased with the way starting quarterback Tyler Wilson has prepared this week. He said Wilson knows he has to keep raising his game.
"The quarterbacks do understand that the biggest jump each season happens between the first and second games," McGee said. "We tell them they have to continue to grind harder and prepare longer and study longer. Those guys understand that. I do know that Tyler takes it serious for the team, not for him personally."
McGee was asked if he had to make Wilson understand that he didn't have to run over anyone at the 1-yard line for the team to be successful. It sounds like he didn't mind the dive into contact that came up short against Missouri State and resulted in Wilson landing on his head.
"You do what you have to do to help us win," McGee said. "That's what I tell the quarterbacks. They understand that. They know that sometimes you have a protection that there is a linebacker coming unblocked. It's third-and-7 and you don't have that 6-3, 240-pounder accounted for and he's coming right for you. They know they have to be the guy and stand in there and deliver the ball and know you are going to take a shot. I'm don't tell them to dodge any of them. You have to do what you can to get your team enough points to win."