Arizona's Sione Tuihalamaka tackles Utah's John White IV. UA shut out the Utes in the fourth quarter.


The way Trevin Wade sees it, playing football is like driving a car.

"If you see a stop sign, you stop. You don't go," he said. "You do what you're told and you follow directions. It's not that complicated."

And yet the Arizona Wildcats continue to make football as complicated as cold fusion. The UA has been outscored by 50 points, 74-24, in its last two games. Showdowns with No. 9 Oregon and USC loom. And, frankly, Arizona (1-2) doesn't seem to be getting any better.

Saturday's 37-10 loss to No. 6 Stanford included so many slip-ups, mix-ups, misses and bungles that coach Mike Stoops felt the need to remind everybody that his team is "young in a lot of areas."

Junior college transfer Jaime Salazar missed two field goals, each time with Stanford leading 16-10. True freshman Hank Hobson lined up in the neutral zone on a Cardinal punt, resulting in a first down and, eventually, a score.

And Arizona's defenders let backup tight end Levine Toilolo streak down the middle of the field - alone - four times for 102 yards.

The only thing that came easily was hard luck.

"It's obvious that we have some things to work on," Stoops said.

Arizona's road to recovery starts with four steps:

1. Think 7, not 3 … Since starting the season with a 41-10 win over Northern Arizona, the UA has scored just three touchdowns - a Keola Antolin run and a Dan Buckner catch in a Week 2 loss at Oklahoma State, and Juron Criner's 6-yard touchdown pass from Foles on Saturday. The Wildcats have made just five trips to the red zone in their last two games, resulting in just 17 points. Stanford, by comparison, has scored on all 16 of its trips to the red zone this season; 12 have resulted in touchdowns.

"Red-zone touchdowns are most important, especially when you're playing a top-10 team," wide receiver David Roberts said.

"We need field goal kickers, but we also need to be scoring touchdowns for more points."

2. … and stop settling for zero. The Wildcats will likely face Oregon on Saturday with a new kicker, senior Alex Zendejas. The Wildcats can't afford to leave any more points on the field. Salazar missed three field goals in as many games, and was wide on a PAT attempt. Had he been perfect, the UA would have an extra 10 points this season - a 15.3 percent increase over their three-week total.

"Our field goal kicking is still an issue," Stoops said. "We just have to get better, whether it's Salazar or Zendejas."

3. Limit the big plays. While Oklahoma State was predictable, Stanford used hockey-style line changes to force matchup problems and make the Wildcats look silly. Tailback Anthony Wilkerson ran 24 yards untouched for a touchdown in the first quarter. Quarterback Andrew Luck twice torched Arizona on third-and-short with passes to Toilolo. The Cardinal finished with 567 yards of total offense, an average of 8.1 yards per play.

"People aren't reading their keys," Wade said. "When running backs are hitting the outside, somebody has to be out there, making them go inside. Little things like that kill your team."

4. Grow up. Arizona's inexperience on both sides of the ball is glaring, but the Wildcats don't necessarily have to play like rookies. Mistakes like Hobson's offside penalty, the missed field goals and blown coverages must be curbed if the UA hopes to salvage a winning season.

Foles, the team's unofficial spokesman and established leader, refuses to use the Wildcats' youth as an excuse.

"You play the game your whole life. There's no excuse. You have to get back to work," he said. "They don't care if you're a freshman or sophomore. No one cares. The guys know that. We all have to play better."

Up next

• What: Oregon at Arizona

• When: 7:15 p.m. Saturday


• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Sp)

AP top 25

With first-place votes in parentheses, records through Sept. 17 and previous ranking.

1. Oklahoma (37) 2-0 1

2. LSU (14) 3-0 3

3. Alabama (7) 3-0 2

4. Boise St. (2) 2-0 4

5. Stanford 3-0 6

6. Wisconsin 3-0 7

7. Oklahoma St. 3-0 8

8. Texas A&M 2-0 9

9. Nebraska 3-0 11

10. Oregon 2-1 12

11. Florida St. 2-1 5

12. South Carolina 3-0 10

13. Virginia Tech 3-0 13

14. Arkansas 3-0 14

15. Florida 3-0 16

16. West Virginia 3-0 18

17. Baylor 2-0 19

18. South Florida 3-0 20

19. Texas 3-0 24

20. TCU 2-1 23

21. Clemson 3-0 NR

22. Michigan 3-0 NR

23. USC 3-0 NR

24. Illinois 3-0 NR

25. Georgia Tech 3-0 NR

Others receiving votes: Michigan St. 42, Auburn 29, Houston 25, Miami 23, Iowa St. 19, Utah 19, Ohio St. 16, Maryland 15, Mississippi St. 14, Missouri 10, Arizona St. 9, Notre Dame 8, San Diego St. 8, Vanderbilt 8, Georgia 7, FIU 4, California 3, Navy 3, North Carolina 2, Tennessee 2.