UCLA opened the 2023 season Saturday night with a 27-13 victory over Coastal Carolina. It was a a bit of a slopfest at times from the Bruins — who just jumped offside again — but things started to dial in for Chip Kelly’s group during a dominant fourth quarter that saw Coastal Carolina run 13 plays and gain a total of 12 yards.

The main storyline exiting the game, however, is the fate of the UCLA quarterback competition.

Ethan Garbers drew the start for the Bruins and operated four of the offense’s first five possessions. Garbers finished the game 10-for-17 for 121 yards, one score, and two interceptions.

Kelly promised that multiple quarterbacks would play, and a rotation is exactly what fans — to their displeasure at times — were treated to. Five-star freshman Dante Moore came in sporadically throughout the evening and showcased his next-level talent while also looking like a freshman playing his first game.

After UCLA went scoreless in the third quarter — a frame that saw one possession end in a Garbers interception and the next in a three-and-out — Moore entered the game with 14:07 to play in the fourth. Coastal had just missed a 55-yard field goal that would have given it a 16-14 lead.

And on his first play of the drive, Moore connected with wideout J.Michael Sturdivant — who finished with five catches for 136 yards in his Bruin debut — for a perfectly placed deep ball down the left seam.

Moore ended the day with 143 yards and two touchdowns on 7-for-12 passing. He had an interception as well.

“I think that Garbs wants the first (interception) back. But the other two interceptions were protection issues, and the quarterback is getting hit while he is throwing the ball,” Kelly said when asked about the day. “I don’t fault the quarterback in that. We will look at the film and figure out where the breakdown was and how do we make sure that we handle that a little bit better.

“The one that Dante threw in the end zone was just a very bad call by the play-caller, so he’ll get reprimanded. But I thought they performed and we are excited about the next step. It is a lot easier when the next step is coming after 1-0, not 0-1.”

Garbers got the scoring started with a 21-yard completion to Carsen Ryan in the first quarter. In the second quarter, he found Carson Steele for a 14-yarder. Kelly liked the latter; Garbers moved through his progressions to find Steele despite some pressure. “He got through everybody on that,” Kelly said. The back was his final checkdown.

And Moore showed his youth the other way. “Sometimes with quarterbacks, when they get flushed, their eyes go down,” Kelly said. It happened a couple times late. Though not every time.

“All my life, I’ve worked and always been the starter,” Moore said after the game. “In high school, coming in as a true freshman I always took the first snaps and always started the first drive. Through the hard work Garbs put in, he earned the start. Congratulations to him. … I prayed about this, and I’m blessed to be here.”

UCLA rotated heavily at receiver and along the offensive line. (The backfield provided some continuity. TJ Harden and Steele were about even, combining for 24 carries for 152 yards.) That kind of rotation can mess with the rhythm of a unit.

“It is a little tough to go in, then come out, then come back in, but, hey, that’s part of the job,” Garbers said. “When you have a room with a lot of good players, and they’re going to play a lot of other guys, it is what it is and you do what you do.”

And Kelly’s comments after the game all but assured that the quarterback rotation will linger a bit further on into the season.

“We had talked about Garbs playing at least the first quarter, and then putting Dante in at some point in time in the second quarter, and then putting in Collin (Schlee) situationally,” Kelly said. “Collin missed the beginning of camp. He’s just getting back into rounding into shape, and he’s done some really good things.

“Collin not playing is 100% on me. We explained that to him. You’ll see Collin next week. Collin will play against San Diego State.”

The Bruins hit the road next week to face the Aztecs at 4:30 p.m. PT on CBS.