Ethan Garbers Re-Finds Inner Fire in Igniting Late UCLA Charge in LA Bowl

    Ethan Garbers admitted he was nowhere near healthy ahead of the LA Bowl. Yet, he goes from backup to the MVP. What became his motivation?

    Ethan Garbers admitted he wasn’t feeling well ahead of the 2023 L.A. Bowl. He was banged up.

    With the home crowd on his side, some representing his native hometown of Newport Beach, the UCLA quarterback wasn’t able to start in the contest against Boise State. But he sure did finish off the Broncos once Collin Schlee went down.

    Garbers ended his night standing next to NFL legend Rob Gronkowski — who has the bowl game named after him — hoisting the L.A. Bowl Most Valuable Player belt after guiding the Bruins to the 35-22 romp at SoFi Stadium.

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    Ethan Garbers Explains Physical State and What Influenced Him To Still Play

    Garbers had been dealing with an arm injury he sustained against the California Golden Bears in the Bruins’ last game.

    He entered banged up. He left Inglewood busting up the BSU defense.

    He went 9 of 12 for 152 yards and fired two touchdown strikes. The first one fell to the hands of Kyle Ford that cut the lead to 16-14. The last became the dagger — a beautiful 40-yard connection to J. Michael Sturdivant that placed UCLA up for good 35-16 in the fourth quarter. Overall, Garbers was responsible for the Bruins rolling off 21 points with him behind center.

    The redshirt junior would’ve never played, though, had it not been for Schlee going down with a leg injury on a scramble toward the sidelines. UCLA was already down a passer as true freshman Dante Moore entered the transfer portal — which took him out of being eligible to play in the game.

    Garbers, though, explained his reasonings for overcoming his battered state.

    “That performance was for the team, for the seniors,” Garbers began postgame. “They really laid the foundation for this program and for the younger guys. That performance was all for them.”

    Garbers knew it was his time to re-find his inner fire the moment Schlee went down.

    “I just kind of flipped that switch in my head…’it’s time to go to work,'” Garbers said.

    Garbers Makes Big Decision Ahead of 2024

    Head coach Chip Kelly never wavered from putting Garbers back out there. In fact, he reminded the press of one aspect involving Garbers.

    “I think Ethan won over the team a long time ago,” Kelly said. “He’s been our starting quarterback. The only issue we had was that Ethan was banged up. He knows he’s the starting quarterback. We’ve got great faith in him.”

    And in tracing back to the moment Kelly had to return back to him, Kelly shared that Garbers was fine being a backup for UCLA due to his health state.

    “When Collin went down, I asked ‘Are you ready to go?’ He said he was,” Kelly said. “And he played fantastic.”

    Garbers then gave, what Kelly called, an early Christmas present for UCLA fans. He plans to return to Westwood for the 2024 season.

    Kelly patted his MVP QB on the back and said loudly “Merry Christmas everyone.”

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    Garbers went from hobbled to gutting it out for a Bruins team that was home for the holidays and was depleted in the QB room. In the process, he rediscovered his inner fire, and UCLA redeemed itself from past bowl failures under Kelly and their late season collapse.

    Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football’s transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

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