COLUMBIA - South Carolina's coaches have said all along that their offense would be a two-quarterback show.
That mantra still has not changed.
But sophomore Syvelle Newton's 324-yard, three-touchdown passing game in the Gamecocks' 34-3 win over South Florida showed he was capable of playing - sooner rather than later.
"I wouldn't be as hesitant to play him now as I was at the beginning of the season," said quarterbacks coach Skip Holtz.
Even so, it's been made abundantly clear by Holtz and his father that one solid week does not make it Newton's team.
Dondrial Pinkins is expected to be available Saturday against Troy after sitting out last week because of a bruised throwing shoulder.
"The one thing this isn't going to do, it isn't going to be a quarterback controversy," Lou Holtz said. "That's what we fought here for years. It's always this guy's a star and that means, put him down because he's up.
"No, why can't we all be up? Why can't we all be for whoever the quarterback is?"
Cornerback Taqiy Muhammad echoed Holtz, saying there would be no division in the team to support one quarterback or the other.
"That was the past Gamecocks," Muhammad said. "That would have been last year, picking sides and things like that.
"We're behind whatever coach decides who should be in the game."
Offensive lineman Jabari Levey delivered the ultimate company line.
"I'm a 'Dondrial Newton' guy. I'm somewhere in between," Levey said. "I think we're fortunate to have both those guys."
Holtz said he first saw something in Newton, a high school quarterback who played receiver his freshman year, when he hastily inserted him under center late in last year's season-ending blowout loss to Clemson.
"I just liked some things I saw. Even as dismal a time as that was, he just had fun being the quarterback," Holtz said. "I only watched him two or three plays and I said, 'Doggone it, he's moving to quarterback, and he isn't going to be anywhere else.' "
What Holtz saw was an intangible bounce in Newton's step. He said that's what makes him such an attractive choice to step in under center.
He compared the bounce to that of Tony Rice, the quarterback of the 1988 Notre Dame national championship team.
"You can't help but be enthusiastic around Syvelle. Just his love of the game," Holtz said. "He just loves to compete. It's no big deal to him. He would go out and play even if he weren't on scholarship."
Enthusiasm is one thing. Newton's ability to make a 3-yard scramble look like the most exciting play in college football - that's another.
"When he gets the ball under his arm, I stand up," said Skip Holtz, who watches games from the press box. "Something's fixing to happen."
And Newton can make things happen with his arm, too. He found former Silver Bluff star Troy Williamson on touchdown passes of 55, 56 and 73 yards.
But only after stuttering his way through the first play call in the huddle.
After he exorcised the butterflies from his stomach, Newton proved to be a capable leader, Levey said.
"It really impressed me," he said. "I guess he was very comfortable. He went in there and did his thing."
TROY WATCH: Levey said the Gamecocks are not overlooking Troy, which has wins over Marshall and Missouri this season.
Levey watched the Trojans' Sept. 9 win over Mizzou.
The game's turning point occured when offensive guard Junior Louissaint took an impromptu lateral from a teammate and outran the Tigers' secondary for a 63-yard score in Troy's 24-14 upset.
"I said, 'Why can't that be me right there?' " said Levey, who plays left tackle. "You dream about that, but it never comes true."
Reach Travis Haney at (706) 823-3304 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gamecocks on TV
South Carolina's game on Oct. 4 at Alabama will be televised at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.
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