In a surprising turn of events during last week’s practice leading up to the opener against Coastal Carolina, Chip Kelly, the head coach of UCLA Football, made a bold decision that caught many by surprise. Chip Kelly announced that Ethan Garbers, the redshirt junior, would not be leading the team as QB1 but rather, the talented Dante Moore would assume the role. This move left fans and observers wondering about the rationale behind this unexpected choice.
Dante Moore, a 5-star prospect from Detroit, arrived at UCLA with high expectations, having turned down offers from other prestigious schools, including Oregon. His reputation as a standout player was further solidified by his impressive performance in the U.S. Army All-American Game earlier in the year. Expectations were sky-high as he joined the UCLA program, perhaps higher than any other recent signee in the program’s history.
The game against Coastal Carolina began with a touchdown drive led by Garbers, showcasing his initial promise as he connected with tight end Carsen Ryan for a remarkable 21-yard pass down the sidelines. However, as the game progressed, Garbers faced challenges. He struggled to find comfort in the pocket, lacked the agility to evade the relentless defensive pressure, and threw two interceptions, one of which was not entirely his fault.
It wasn’t until the second quarter that Dante Moore entered the game, instantly bringing a sense of calm and playmaking ability to the field. Moore’s performance showcased his poise, maturity, and capacity to thrive under pressure. His pinpoint passes to J. Michael Sturdivant and Carson Steele resulted in crucial plays and touchdowns. The young quarterback’s ability to escape the pocket and deliver a picture-perfect 62-yard touchdown pass to Sturdivant left the fans in awe.
While Ethan Garbers had a solid spring ball and a strong fall camp, Dante Moore’s performance on the field spoke volumes. Moore’s body language exuded confidence and swagger, traits that were notably absent in Garbers during the game. From a talent perspective, Moore seemed to possess greater potential as a passer.
As UCLA prepares for a road test against San Diego State, the lingering question remains: Who will Chip Kelly select as the starting quarterback? Game 1 statistics reveal a compelling case for Moore, who finished with 7-of-12 completions for 143 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception, compared to Garbers’ 10-of-17 completions for 121 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions.
The upcoming non-conference games could serve as opportunities for the coaching staff to evaluate both quarterbacks further. Still, it’s clear that Moore’s performance has ignited a discussion within the team and among fans about who truly deserves the role of QB1 for the season ahead. Whether Chip Kelly decides to stick with Garbers for the sake of his confidence or goes all-in with the promising Moore, the decision remains a topic of great anticipation and debate in the UCLA Football community.