UCLA confident in its quarterbacks but questions remain

The word that shows up most frequently on UCLA football’s depth chart ahead of its season opener against Coastal Carolina is “or.”
At tight end, Hudson Habermehl or Moliki Mateo or Carsen Ryan could be on the field. At running back, it could be T.J. Harden or Carson Steele or Colson Yankoff. And at quarterback, it’s Ethan Garbers or Dante Moore or Collin Schlee.
Bruins coach Chip Kelly announced earlier this week that Garbers would take the first snap in Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. game at the Rose Bowl, but he hasn’t revealed how the playing time will be divided among the three quarterbacks.
“We haven’t had those discussions,” Kelly said Wednesday morning. “Because you have no idea what the protocols are, who’s up, who’s down and whatever it is. And so we wait until the last second, but there’s no reason to do that on Wednesday. That’s always been the way we’ve done it.”
Since the game is in the evening, Kelly added, the coaching staff will talk more about playing time Saturday. Wednesday morning was the final media availability of the week, so anyone can speculate how long each quarterback might see on the field.
“Who’s gonna help us win the game,” Kelly said of what he’s looking to analyze of the trio. “It’s a very simple process and I think all three of those guys can do that and that’s why all three of those guys are gonna play.”
The coach has remained neutral, at least on the surface, about each signal-caller.
“They get along great and so it’s a great room to watch them, how they train on the field together and what they’re like in the classroom,” Kelly said. “So all those guys have done a really good job of leading in their own way. We want them to be authentic and to be themselves and Ethan, Collin and Dante have done that.”
Garbers has the most experience at UCLA out of the group, playing in six games as a backup to Dorian Thompson-Robinson last season and getting into an additional six games during the 2021 season.
In 2022, he completed 31 of 51 passes for 305 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Moore and Schlee are newer Bruins, both coming into the program prior to this season’s spring camp. Moore was a sought-after, five-star recruit out of Martin Luther King Jr. High in Detroit who has brought charisma and maturity in his freshman year.
Players have said they enjoy Moore’s swagger and demeanor, but center Duke Clemens added that they sometimes have to dial him in.
“With Dante being a young guy, I’ve been there, so I kind of know what’s going on,” Clemens said. “Him being Dante Moore, we’ve got to hone down on him a little bit more. Just play football, stick to the process and just him knowing that I have trust in him is huge.”
Schlee, a redshirt junior transfer from Kent State, was in the top 10 in his previous school’s record books in terms of single-season passing yards, touchdown passes and completion percentage. He rushed for an additional 492 yards and four scores.
“I’m not going to run away from competition and I don’t think any of these guys are,” Schlee said. “We’ve got a great quarterback room and I think that’s what we all want. We want great people around us so we can be even greater than we are.”

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