UCLA names starting quarterback for 2023 opener
UCLA head coach Chip Kelly has named Ethan Garbers the starting quarterback for the season opener against Coastal Carolina on Saturday.
Kelly shared the decision with reporters on Monday. Garbers — the redshirt junior who backed up Dorian Thompson-Robinson last season — beats out former 5-star freshman Dante Moore and Kent State transfer Collin Schlee for the job.
Both Moore and Schlee will play on Saturday, Kelly said. A three-quarterback system is not something Kelly has gone with before.
“All three of them deserve to play,” Kelly said. “They’ve all played outstanding. It’s been a really good battle with those guys. A healthy competition and they all have earned playing time. But Ethan will take the first snap. Ethan has the most experience in our offense, so Ethan will start the game, but you’ll also see Collin and you’ll also see Dante.”
Kelly said they’ll determine how the snaps will be divided by the end of this week.
Garbers’ win is a big deal.
The former UW quarterback enrolled at UCLA in January of 2021 and spent his first two seasons as a backup with an injury or blowout being his only pathway to playing time.
He saw action in six games last season and has thrown a total of 88 pass attempts for the Bruins. Garbers has 599 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions in his UCLA career.
Moore was seen as the best bet to start after the fifth-ranked recruit in the country flipped his commitment from Oregon to UCLA during the early signing period last December. He joined the Bruins for spring ball and talked recently about how much of a benefit that served for him.
He went 40-11 as a high school starter with two state titles and landed in Westwood looking like a ready-made college quarterback.
Interestingly, none of the five 5-star quarterbacks from the 2023 class enter the season as the starter at their respective schools.
In the era of the transfer portal, all eyes will be on the rotation in Westwood to open the season. Moore has already faced (and shot down) rumors that he is unhappy with his situation at UCLA.
UCLA also has Schlee to manage, who committed to Kelly before Moore and enrolled in the spring with two years of eligibility. He started for Kent State during the 2022 season and threw for 2,109 yards and 13 touchdowns in 11 games.
The Bruins face Coastal Carolina on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN.