Mention this pass-catch combination on this day a

By Allen Moff Record-Courier sports writer Published:

Mention this pass-catch combination on this day a year ago, and virtually everyone outside of the immediate Kent State football family would have blurted back the same, one-word reply.

Who?

But the days of living in anonymity came to an abrupt end last season, when the Goebbel-Baker tandem thrust itself into the ranks of the most feared in the Mid-American Conference after effectively rewriting the Kent State single-season record books for passing and receiving.

And they're picking up right where they left off in preseason camp this year.

Goebbel, in easily his most effective outing of camp thus far, completed his first nine passes during Sunday morning's intrasquad scrimmage at the Dix Stadium football complex. And his favorite target snared six of them, including two fully-extended, finger-tip catches that Baker made a habit of snagging a year ago.

"Eugene's the best receiver in the MAC," said Goebbel, who completed 17-of-21 passes for 316 yards and four touchdowns against the Flashes' first and second defensive units. "He makes my job easy. I've just got to be poised enough to get the ball to him, and he does the rest."

And he does it well. Before his day was through, Baker caught 10 passes for 190 yards and four touchdowns Sunday morning after grabbing nine passes for 116 yards in the first scrimmage last week.

"Baker put on an All-MAC performance," said Kent State coach Jim Corrigall. "And Todd was very efficient. And when he's efficient, the rest of the offense is efficient."

Few would have predicted the impact Goebbel and Baker would ultimately make on the Kent State passing attack when they arrived on campus back in 1994. Both were redshirted as true freshmen, but the tandem began to evolve the following year.

"It all started two springs ago," Baker recalled. "I could see Todd was a good quarterback, and we worked hard and well together. I knew we'd make a good tandem."

Since then, Goebbel and Baker have developed a close relationship both on and off the field. They spent the past summer together at Kent State along with over 40 other players, working out in preparation for the upcoming season.

"We try to do a lot of work together in the summer," said Baker. "We work a lot on timing routes, so in a game he can just throw to a certain point and he's confident I'll be there."

After tasting success a year ago and putting in the extra effort over the summer, Baker and Goebbel are brimming with confidence heading into the 1997 campaign. But Baker realizes that the days of sneaking up on unprepared opposition are over.

"We know everyone will be gunning for us after last year," said Baker. "We've got to be on our toes to get where we want to be, but everything's coming together. The line's blocking well, Todd's throwing well ...

"I was very pleased with the way we played (Sunday). We were rolling on all cylinders."

NOTES

Offense steals the show: Kent State's offense was sharp in Sunday morning's scrimmage, putting five touchdowns and a field goal on the board.

"The offense was much more effective in the second scrimmage than in the last one," said Corrigall. "They just have to guard against complacency."

Aside from Goebbel and Baker, receiver William Young, running back Marlon Gates and quarterback Jose Davis turned in solid performances. Young caught five passes for 106 yards and one touchdown; Gates, who saw the majority of action at tailback, rushed for 43 yards on eight carries; and Davis, working with the second unit, completed 9-of-17 passes for 85 yards.

First-team All-MAC performer Astron Whatley was used sparingly.

Corrigall was especially pleased with his offensive line, which has taken on a new look. Returning starter Brian Moore (6-2, 288) has moved from left guard to center while Ron White (6-6, 302), a junior college transfer who sat out last season, has been inserted into the guard slot. Bob Hallen (6-4, 304), who started at center a year ago, is at right tackle while returning starter Steve Zahursky (6-6, 305) is at left tackle and junior college transfer Dennis Glasby (6-2, 334) at right guard.

"Our offensive line, especially the No. 1's, played very well today," said Corrigall. "And it shows the way we were able to throw the ball. I feel we've got our best line on the field now."

Defensively, the Flashes got off to a rough start but improved as the scrimmage progressed.

"We tightened up against the run as the scrimmage went on, and the first team made a nice goal-line stand at the end," said Corrigall. "On a couple of the touchdowns that were scored, we had the receiver well covered but didn't finish the play. But overall, I was pleased with the effort."

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