"We need to come out with a sense of urgency," Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson said. "We have to play with higher level as far as competitive spirit. We had that in the second half of our last few games, but we didn't have that at the start."
Wide receiver Jarius Wright said, "I agree with Tyler. We are getting that fixed. The way to do that is do that in practice first. Then, you take that to the game. We worked on that today."
The Hogs had their first workout of the week Tuesday. Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee said it was a good, high-energy workout.
Wilson said he saw that competitive spirit in practice. He said it's that competitive nature that will serve Arkansas well. He said there is a lot of talk about the slow start in early-morning games and the way to cure that is with intensity.
"I think everyone from our coaches, our players, the media and everyone that follows us knows that we haven't done well in the first half of the last few games," Wilson said. "It's on us because we just haven't competed hard enough. That sense of urgency has been missing.
"We have competitive players, but for some reason it wasn't there early in games. I take that personally because I'm a captain. I have to lead and be competitive when you are a captain."
What happened at halftime to turn on that switch?
"There wasn't a lot of yelling," he said. "We were calm and poised.It wasn't like someone went off or lit a match. that's not what was going on. It was more a look in eyes than anything. There wasn't any jumping around. There was no panic. We knew we could stick to the game plan and we would be alright.
"We did talk about it and we've talked about it since then, too. We just have to continue to push to get that competitive spirit going and do it Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and then Saturday in the game -- from the start."
McGee said the Hogs hurt themselves by making mistakes. He said the throw on third down by Wilson on the first Arkansas possession was to the wrong receiver.
"If it goes to the right guy, that's probably a 55-yard play and things just go on from them," McGee said. "But it wasn't. And then we are off the field and (Ole Miss) keeps it for the next eight minutes and the quarter is over."
"It was a crossing route," he said. "We had two receivers in the same area, a high-low look. Joe Adams was underneath and Chris Gragg was just about five yards deeper. You put the defense in a tough area and one of those receivers is going to rub off a defender on the other one. One of them is going to come open. It's a quick decision, but you have to get it right. I didn't."
The Hogs found themselves down 17-0 before getting a touchdown late in the second quarter.
"It's a concern to start like that," Wilson said. "You spot someone 17, you are going to be lucky to win. We have done that a couple of times. Obviously, everyone in the world knows we can't get doing that."
Vanderbilt's defense is based on a steady diet of blitzes.
"They pressured Georgia 63 percent of the time," McGee said. "It was 42 percent against Alabama. Georgia's offense has certain aspects that are a lot like ours so we anticipate that they will (blitz)."
The Commodores have taken advantage of the blitzes to force plenty of pass interceptions.
"They do jump routes," Wright said. "We know they are going to do that."
Wilson said, "They run a lot of pressure. We noticed that against Georgia. We have to get the ball off quickly and let our playmakers make plays against those type of pressures."
McGee said the Commodores break on the ball sharply.
"We don't anticipate Tyler throwing picks," McGee said. "That's not what he does. But (Vanderbilt) defensive backs understand the routes that are run and they break on the ball. You see them making diving interceptions. They play hard and with enthusiasm. You see that from their coach to their players. The (secondary) coach is running up and down the sideline trying to excite his players.
"Tyler will be fine. He understands that he needs to throw to our players."
McGee praised the Vandy defense.
"What you see from them is that they are really disciplined," he said. "They are well coached. They understand leverages. They play with the right angles. They don't give up big runs because they close on the ball at the right angles to prevent them."
The Hogs have hit big plays, but McGee wants to see more third down conversions.
"That's what we didn't do early in our last game," he said. "That's how you stay on the field. When you don't convert third downs, you can't get in a rhythm calling plays. We have to do a better job in concentration so we can stay on the field."
McGee was asked if Dennis Johnson will get the bulk of the carries this week after a 160-yard performance earned him SEC offensive player of the week.
"We'll keep doing what we do," McGee said. "It could be any of our guys (getting carries at running back)."
However, McGee was not surprised by Johnson's breakout game.
"I could tell in our Friday preparations, he was in the training room most of the day doing what he could to make sure his legs were fresh," McGee said. "I could see it in his eyes in pre-game warmups.
"Dennis is doing a good job (in preparations this week). But this is just the first day of a new game plan. He's into it, though."