Unless Derrick Taite can't play because of an injury, he will remain Mississippi State's starting quarterback for the Bulldogs' Southeastern Conference opener at South Carolina on Saturday.
"He's won some games for us," State coach Jackie Sherrill said of Taite. "You've got to understand, he's been there. We've got to get his confidence level back up and get some receivers to quit dropping passes and we'll have success."
Taite, a senior and third-year starter, was pulled out of last Saturday's 38-23 loss to Louisiana Tech after missing his first five passes. He returned in the second half, but was quickly back on the bench after throwing an interception. He finished with one completion for 8 yards.
Redshirt freshman Matt Wyatt completed 17 of 33 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns.
WRONG NUMBER: Fresh from a 19-15 win at Auburn, LSU coach Gerry DiNardo arrived at his office at 6 a.m. Monday when his private line rang. The caller wanted the power company, but when he discovered LSU's coach on the line, he had some advice.
He congratulated DiNardo on the win before asking, "You got a few minutes?" The caller then outlined some improvements DiNardo could make.
"He said, `Offensively, let me tell you a couple of things,"' DiNardo said. "He went through my offense. He said, `Defensively, not bad, but if it were me, here's what,' and then he made a couple of adjustments. `Kicking game,' and I'm not one that's usually at a loss for words, but I'm going uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh."
"Basically he said if it were him coaching the team, they would score a lot more points and the opponent probably would never score," DiNardo said.
Taite has started 25 straight games for State, including the Peach Bowl at the end of the 1994 season. The Bulldogs are 12-13 in those games.
ANOTHER CHANCE: Auburn coach Terry Bowden says he won't bench kicker Jaret Holmes, who missed four kicks in Saturday's 19-15 loss to LSU.
Holmes had an extra point and a field goal blocked and was wide on two other field-goal attempts.
"After he missed next two field goals by being off, it was clear he was very nervous," Bowden said. "He could see it, I could see it. I'm going to give him a chance to show he can overcome that. But I'm not hesitant to go to (backup kicker) Kevin Gentle if we run into something Jaret can't handle."
Holmes was 6-for-7 on field goals and 16-for-17 on extra points going into the LSU game.
COPYCATS: Saturday's game between No. 11 North Carolina and No. 2 Florida State features two of the top-ranked defenses in the country.
The Tar Heels (3-0, 2-0 in the ACC) are No. 1 in the country in scoring defense, giving up only 3.3 points a game, and have outscored their two conference opponents 61-0. Florida State, on the other hand, is No. 1 in the country in total defense, allowing only 143.5 yards a game.
"North Carolina's defense right now is awesome," Duke coach Fred Goldsmith said. "They're playing awesome."
Said Clemson coach Tommy West: "North Carolina's defense reminds me of Florida State's defenses from the past. They're fast and they're good."
BOOTLEGS: Last year, Florida coach Steve Spurrier had to defend scoring 62 points in the win over Tennessee. This year, he's having to defend a conservative second half. "The first objective is to win the game," he said. "Last year we scored 62 points and everybody said we were running up the score. This year everybody's saying we didn't put them away. Y'll say whatever y'll want to say. In three or four weeks, the only thing people will care about is who won the game." ... Florida State was rated the top party school in the country by the Princeton Review, a fact that coach Bobby Bowden didn't care to hear. "That surely doesn't do the coaches any good," he said. "We've got enough things to worry about." ... Kentucky coach Bill Curry appears close to making freshman Tim Couch his No. 1 quarterback after a 3-0 victory over Indiana. "We've got two good quarterbacks," he said. "We'll just practice this week and see how it looks going into the game." The Wildcats are at Florida on Saturday, and the last time the two teams met at the Swamp, the Gators won 73-7. ... Tennessee's game with Mississippi is considered a home game for the Rebels, despite the fact that's it's being played in Memphis. "I'm sure we'll have plenty of fans there," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said.
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