Ethan Garbers named UCLA starting quarterback against Coastal Carolina

PUBLISHED August 28, 2023 at 9:05 a.m. | UPDATED: August 28, 2023 at 1:30 p.m.
LOS ANGELES — UCLA football coach Chip Kelly named quarterback Ethan Garbers as the starter for the season opener against Coastal Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 2 at the Rose Bowl.
Garbers received the news on Sunday before practice that he had beat out true freshman Dante Moore and Kent State transfer Collin Schlee in a quarterback competition that Kelly described as “close.”
“Ethan will take the first snap,” Kelly said. “He has the most experience in our offense.”
Garbers had taken first-team reps as early as the spring and is one of only two quarterbacks, along with Chase Griffin, on the roster to have previously started a game for UCLA.
Kelly stated that both Moore and Schlee will also play on Saturday and will figure out exactly how he will distribute the playing time as the week goes on.
“All three of them deserve to play,” Kelly said. “I think it’s been a really good battle between those guys and healthy competition.”
All three quarterbacks didn’t appear to have an issue with the dynamic when talking with reporters on Monday.
“I know that this quarterback room is really special,” Moore said. “There are many great quarterbacks … I’m the youngest in the room, so being out here with all these (quarterbacks)… and learning from their mistakes, them telling me stories about how the game goes is a true blessing.”
Garbers will become the first quarterback not named Dorian Thompson-Robinson to open the season as the Bruins’ quarterback since 2018.
In a similar situation that season, Kelly decided to go with the veteran quarterback, Michigan transfer Wilton Speight, over Thompson-Robinson, who was a true freshman.
Speight was injured in the opener and Thompson-Robinson started the next six games.
Garbers has completed 57 of 88 passes for 599 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions in 12 games. The Corona del Mar product completed 27 of 44 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 36 yards in a loss at Utah in his first start for an injured Thompson-Robinson in 2021.
“It’s definitely going to help because my first collegiate start was at Utah in a tough environment and place to play,” Garbers said. “… I think what’s going to help is that I’ve sat behind a starter for two years, who is going on to do stuff in the NFL and play great, so I kind of know and have my own routine figured out … so I’m excited and ready to go.”
Garbers spent the 2020 pandemic season in Washington before transferring to UCLA and becomes the ninth transfer quarterback named as a starter for a Pac-12 Conference team this season.
Moore enrolled early to participate in the Bruins’ spring camp, walking on campus as Kelly’s highest-rated recruit during his UCLA tenure. He led Detroit’s King High to three Michigan state titles and had committed to Oregon before a coaching change in Eugene led to Moore flipping his commitment to the Bruins.
Schlee committed to the Bruins in December, two days before Moore’s commitment. Schlee completed 157 of 266 passes for 2,109 yards, 13 touchdowns and five interceptions in 11 games played during the 2022 season.
Schlee is no stranger to having to share time at the position, having to split duties with then-freshman Devin Kargman at the end of the season.
Prior to Kent State, Schlee won a state championship with Oakdale High in Maryland to complete a 13-0 senior season.
“I’m not gonna run away from competition,” Schlee said. “I don’t think any of these guys are. We’ve got a great quarterback room and that’s what we all want. We want great people around us so we can even be greater than we are.”

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