UCLA Football: The Quarterback Battle Royale so far…

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Devon Modster
PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Devon Modster /

With just over a week into UCLA football’s fall camp, we look at the rumblings coming out of Westwood regarding the five-man QB competition.

UCLA football head coach Chip Kelly has had to do a lot of overhauling since he took over the program at the end of 2017. The coach that revolutionized college football from 2009-12 has another big project on his hands (among many).

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Though he has to rejuvenate this program that has been stagnant the last three seasons, he has to eventually focus on the quarterback position which is the main force that will make his machine go.

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During his time at Oregon, Kelly made quarterbacks Darren Thomas and Marcus Mariota into superstars. At UCLA, he should be able to do the same thing, but the big question is, who exactly will that be?

Kelly has the chance to get his offense going with five quarterbacks at his disposal. The Bruins return Devon Modster, Matt Lynch and Austin Burton from last season, but also add Michigan grad transfer Wilton Speight and freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson into the fray.

Each of them has there own specific skills that Kelly could use, but Kelly is going to need a QB that has skills that adhere to what he requires for his offense to move forward (and at a certain pace).

Kelly is smart enough to develop a game plan for each one of these QBs, but he eventually going to need a QB for the season and not just individual games. So how is the QB Battle Royale going so far?

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By most reports, Modster and Speight are getting a lot of the first-team reps. Among all five, Modster has the most experience playing under center for UCLA. So far, it seems that his experience is paying off. He has dual-threat abilities and knows the players around him, which will help with consistency in the offense.

Speight has the most game experience, though it has been continuously pondered how he would fit into Kelly’s system. He is a pocket passer with a strong arm, but will that translate to a run-based spread offense?

The surprise of camp has been the play of Thompson-Robinson. As reported by the L.A. Times, fellow Bruin WR Theo Howard stated that the freshman is “mature beyond his years”. Howard has apparently been impressing the coaches with both his arm and legs. If he can get the nuances of the system down, then it would not be a surprise that we see him play several minutes this season but maybe get a few starts.

Unfortunately, not a lot has been reported on Lynch and Burton. Lynch is the second most experienced UCLA returner as Modster’s backup in 2017. Burton made a name for himself during the spring game as he was the most productive QB, so he still has a lot going for him. But honestly, with limited information coming out of camp, it is really hard to gauge what is going on and who will come out on top.

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Though we are under 20 days until kick off (UCLA starts the season against Cincinnati at the Rose Bowl on September 1), Kelly is probably nowhere near naming a starter. That might be a good thing as UCLA needs every opportunity to get Kelly’s offense up and running.