Coming off its third consecutive Pacific 10 Conference loss, Arizona football head coach Mike Stoops said he was pleased with many of the things the Wildcats did against Stanford on Saturday, but that his team continues to undermine its shots at victory.
Stoops cited turnovers, dropped passes, penalties, missed assignments and bad reads as areas to be corrected if the team wants to turn around its season.
"Those plays continue to hurt us, and we're not good enough to overcome mistakes like that," Stoops said at his weekly press conference Monday. "We lose a lot of momentum and a lot of confidence in those plays."
In Saturday's 20-16 loss to the Cardinal, Arizona turned the ball over five times, had six penalties for 69 yards and dropped four passes Stoops said put Arizona in difficult situations.
"That's the game in a nutshell," Stoops said of the mistakes. "I wish I could tell you why we can't get it corrected. If I could, I'd probably be a billionaire. That's something that we have to learn how to overcome and learn how to win."
The Wildcats also allowed five sacks, up from just one given up to No. 1 Southern California Oct. 8.
Linebackers back in action
The Wildcats' linebacking corps, which has dealt with injuries all season, returned two important players last week, and both showed against Stanford what kind of production they may add to the Arizona defense.
Redshirt freshman Ronnie Palmer saw his first action in an Arizona uniform Saturday playing middle linebacker.
Palmer, who broke his foot during fall practices, recorded three tackles and assisted on a sack in limited duty. Stoops said he expects Palmer to start this week against No. 15 Oregon.
The Wildcats also got back sophomore Spencer Larsen, who played sparingly in the USC game but led the team in tackles against the Cardinal.
Larsen, who has dealt with hamstring and other leg injuries this season and tore his ACL in spring practice, finished with nine tackles and a sack.
Larsen sported an icing boot on his foot Monday but said he was fine and would be ready to play Saturday.
Stoops also said he expects sophomore defensive lineman Lionel Dotson to return this week, a move that if nothing else will add depth to the Wildcats' defensive front.
Pac-10 and the BCS
The season's first Bowl Championship Series rankings were released Monday, and four Pac-10 teams cracked the Top 25.
USC narrowly beat out Texas for the No. 1 spot, with UCLA at No. 9 and Oregon at No. 13. California rounded out the field at No. 25.
The conference was close to having two teams in the eight coveted BCS spots before last year's postseason, but the Golden Bears were held out in favor of the Longhorns.
Three Pac-10 teams could finish this season with no more than one loss. USC and UCLA are both undefeated but meet Dec. 3 at Memorial Coliseum.
Oregon has just one loss, suffered to the Trojans on Sept. 24, and won't play UCLA in 2005.