The Pirates are deeper and more talented at the quarterback position than they were a season ago. Of course junior Holton Ahlers has the starting job locked up, but the trio of freshmen in Mason Garcia, Taji Hudson and Ryan Stubblefield pushed older players like Alex Flinn and Bryan Gagg during preseason camp and into the regular season.

Already fans have seen Garcia turn up on ECU’s two-deep behind Ahlers, but it is some of the freshmen that are helping the Pirates prepare for their next opponent.

Hudson and Stubblefield are guiding the scout team offense for the Pirates ahead of Saturday’s road opener against Georgia State. Despite being moved to wide receiver for the season, Hudson possesses the physical tools to emulate the Panthers’ redshirt freshman signal caller Cornelious Brown.

A tall, physically gifted Brown accounted for two touchdowns in his first career start earlier this season against Louisiana, one through the air and one on the ground. He has both a big arm to sling the football around and the athleticism to pull the ball down and rip off a huge gain with his legs.

While Hudson will see the majority of his time at wide receiver and on special teams this season, his makeup at 6’3”, 206 pounds, and tools, make him an ideal candidate to prepare ECU’s defense for Brown.

“We were talking Sunday night and I was like, ‘you know what he looks like? He looks like Taji in a couple of years if you played him at quarterback,’” ECU head coach Mike Houston said. “Because of the athleticism, because of the ability to throw it and run it, and the size.”

Stubblefield, who clocks in at 5’10”, 208 pounds, was a top-100 pro-style quarterback in the nation coming out of Foster High School in Texas and passed for over 3,100 yards during his final prep season. Hudson missed the majority of his senior season, but was ranked the 31st-best dual-threat quarterback in the country by ESPN.com and a top-125 recruit in the state of Georgia.

“Obviously a drastically different offensive scheme than what we saw last week, different quarterback than what we saw last week,” Houston said. “I do think that a combination of Taji and Ryan will be able to get us ready for the game, so I do feel good about our ability to give our defense a scout look. It’s a deal where he’s a talented athlete just like Taji, so a lot of similarities.”

Expect Georgia State to run their fair share of option plays with the quarterback and designed quarterback draw plays. Against Louisiana, Brown ran the ball 15 times for 64 yards and threw it another 39 times.

Displicine on option plays for the Pirates’ young defensive line and linebacker corps will be vital to ECU picking up its first win in a road opener in the last seven attempts. With Hudson and Stubblefield giving the Pirates’ defense many of the looks they will see from the Panthers, ECU should roll into Atlanta as prepared as possible.

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