Hartman: Ponder, Harvin form potent combo

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 20, 2012 - 7:35 AM

Other quarterbacks and receivers might grab more publicity, but the Vikings duo make an effective tandem.

If you check the statistics of Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin from the first two games, you find that quarterback Christian Ponder is doing something right, even though some of the local media fawned over Colts QB Andrew Luck last week and already have him inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

The Vikings' second-year quarterback ranks sixth with a 110.6 rating among NFL passers behind Atlanta's Matt Ryan (117.6), San Francisco's Alex Smith (115.9), St. Louis' Sam Bradford (112.4), Washington's Robert Griffin III (111.6) and San Diego's Philip Rivers (110.7).

Luck, who I admit has a great future, ranks 26th with a 75.2 rating.

As for the Ponder-Harvin connection, since last Oct. 23, Harvin is tied for the league lead with 80 receptions.

It took Harvin five games last season to catch 18 passes for 183 yards. In two games this year, the former Florida star has 18 receptions for 188 yards. Harvin caught a career-high 12 passes against the Colts. He has caught 18 of the 21 passes thrown at him this season. He is on pace for 1,500 yards this season.

I can't recall a Vikings quarterback directing comebacks such as Ponder did the past two weeks, including the two late touchdown passes to tie the score against the Colts. The Vikings could have won that game had the defense not allowed Luck to throw two 20-yard passes in the final 31 seconds to set up the winning field goal.

Asked how he would grade his performance in the first two games, Ponder said: "Likely B-minus. I think there's a lot of things I can get better at and keep progressing in. There's always room for improvement."

Ponder pointed out some of his mistakes, such as the throw he forced to Harvin that was almost picked off and taking four sacks rather than getting rid of the ball.

Even though the Vikings beat Jacksonville and lost to the Colts, Ponder said the offense progressed from the first game to the second.

"We started moving the ball pretty consistently in the first half against Indianapolis," he said. "That was good to see that progression, but we still need to do some better things."

How would he compare his performance Sunday with Luck's?

"I think it ultimately comes down to wins and losses and he won the game, so that Sunday he was better than me," Ponder said. "I think I played OK, I played well enough. You're always disappointed in any loss. It was a close one. We had the momentum late in the second half and we figured that maybe we'd win it, but that's life in the NFL."

And now Sunday, Ponder gets a real test against the 49ers, no doubt the best team in the game today with a defense that will get him time after time if the offensive line doesn't have a good day.

Brewster products star

After every Gophers game, the university makes about five players who played well available to the local media to answer questions.

Following Saturday's 28-23 victory over Western Michigan, all five Gophers who earned the right to be interviewed were recruited by former Gophers coach Tim Brewster.

Defensive back Michael Carter is a senior and linebacker Mike Rallis is a redshirt senior. Defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman and wide receiver A.J. Barker are redshirt juniors. Running back Donnell Kirkwood is a redshirt sophomore. Max Shortell, a sophomore, was a senior in high school when he committed to Brewster, then still came to Minnesota under current coach Jerry Kill after Brewster was fired.

And while Brewster might have recruited them, all five of those players certainly have shown a lot of improvement the past two years under Kill and his staff.

Barker, for example, has caught four touchdown passes in the first three games this season. He is still not on scholarship.

"I've talked to A.J., and I kind of keep that with him and myself, and he's certainly doing a good job," Kill said. "Anytime we get a player that's doing some good things, and if he can continue that through the season, that's when we reward those kids. We did it with [redshirt sophomore defensive lineman] Cameron Botticelli.

"As long as [Barker] does what he needs to, he'll be fine. I think he's having a great time right now. I'm very proud of the things that he's doing."

Jottings

• Joe Mauer, who is hitting .324 after going 1-for-4 Wednesday night against Cleveland, has a chance for his fourth league batting title. At this time in 2006, Mauer was hitting .344 and leading the Yankees' Derek Jeter, who was at .340. In 2008, he was hitting .327 and just ahead of the Red Sox's Dustin Pedroia, in second at .326. And in 2009, Mauer was hitting .373, well ahead of the Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki at .357.

• It appears both the Gophers and Vikings will sell out their stadiums for the first time this season this week. Both teams have 2,000-plus tickets left for games against Syracuse on Saturday and San Francisco on Sunday.

• After catching four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 against Green Bay, former Viking Randy Moss, who comes to town this weekend with the 49ers, had only one reception for 14 yards in San Francisco's Week 2 victory over Detroit.

• Gophers quarterback Shortell on injured starting QB MarQueis Gray: "MarQueis is a special player and I've learned a lot from him, watching him play. Watching him has really helped me expand my game and helped me to understand what I need to work on. I'm willing to continue to learn and try to do as much as I can with my chance when I get in. Our coaching staff does a great job working me in with reps, I'm just as prepared as the starter would be for the game. Our coaching staff does a great job with the game plan and getting me reps, so I'm well prepared for the game."

• The New York Yankees have joined Bill Austin and the Starkey Hearing Foundation to deliver hearing aids to more than 100 children and adults at Yankee Stadium on Friday at 10 a.m. Yankees manager Joe Girardi and Barbara Bush, daughter of former President George W. Bush, will be on hand to assist with the presentations.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 2 FINAL
St. Louis 5
Washington 9 FINAL
Atlanta 8
Miami 5 FINAL
Boston 3
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 1
Baltimore 4 FINAL
Toronto 5
Detroit - LP: J. Mantiply 4 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: C. Torres 5
Cincinnati 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Los Angeles 10 FINAL
Milwaukee 1
San Francisco 12 FINAL
Texas 3
Chicago WSox 0 FINAL
San Diego 5
Kansas City 11 FINAL
Cleveland 9
Seattle 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 7
Colorado 0 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 7 FINAL
Arizona 2
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Chicago 84 FINAL
Indiana 98
Sacramento 114 FINAL
Orlando 119
Utah 89 FINAL
Philadelphia 83
Miami 97 FINAL
Washington 99
Toronto 94 FINAL
Charlotte 103
Cleveland 97 FINAL
Atlanta 106
Boston 104 FINAL
New Orleans 98
Detroit 93 FINAL
Houston 103
LA Lakers 90 FINAL
Memphis 97
Phoenix 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 100
Denver 111 FINAL
San Antonio 120
Dallas 64 3rd Qtr 1:02
Golden State 82
Columbus 3 FINAL
New Jersey 2
Minnesota 3 FINAL
Carolina 1
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Ottawa 3
Calgary 5 FINAL
Detroit 2
Edmonton 1 FINAL(SO)
Chicago 2
Pittsburgh 4 3rd Prd 3:46
Anaheim 2
Longwood 68 FINAL
Char Southern 60
Ark-Pine Bluff 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 75
Southern Ill 45 FINAL
Wichita State 56
Winthrop 67 FINAL
Radford 66
Evansville 67 FINAL
Illinois State 71
Towson 69 FINAL
Elon 74
Gardner-Webb 72 FINAL
High Point 71
Samford 76 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Northern Ill 71 FINAL
Ball State 67
Bowling Green 75 FINAL
Buffalo 77
Brown 69 FINAL
Dartmouth 75
Toledo 59 FINAL
Eastern Mich 85
Akron 77 FINAL
Kent State 79
Ill-Chicago 72 FINAL
Oakland 69
Miami-Ohio 65 FINAL
Ohio 95
Columbia 46 FINAL
Penn 54
Cornell 53 FINAL
Princeton 66
Central Mich 62 FINAL
Western Mich 74
Bradley 46 FINAL
Northern Iowa 71
Morehead State 77 FINAL
Murray State 80
Yale 62 FINAL
Harvard 52
Furman 73 FINAL
Citadel 56
Coll of Charleston 56 FINAL
Drexel 48
UNC-Asheville 57 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 74
Texas Tech 74 FINAL
Baylor 77
Pacific 58 FINAL
San Francisco 62
Loyola-Chicago 81 FINAL
Indiana State 53
Detroit 53 FINAL
Cleveland State 70
Belmont 53 FINAL
Eastern Ky 52
Loyola Marymount 22 2nd Half
Santa Clara 36
Chicago 0 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
(21) George Washington 77
Wake Forest 68 FINAL
(16) Duke 77
Furman 55 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 68
Monmouth 61 FINAL
Quinnipiac 82
Michigan State 60 FINAL
(4) Maryland 70
Belmont 65 FINAL
UT Martin 71
Arkansas 36 FINAL
(3) South Carolina 58
Mercer 56 FINAL
East Tenn St 66
Richmond 45 FINAL
Fordham 46
Miami-Florida 61 FINAL
(2) Notre Dame 77
Siena 61 FINAL
Iona 71
Washington St 48 FINAL
(9) Arizona State 67
Ark-Pine Bluff 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 51
(23) Rutgers 57 FINAL
(24) Northwestern 62
Tennessee St 71 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 59
Loyola Marymount 50 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
(18) Texas A&M 65 FINAL
LSU 71
Cincinnati 76 FINAL
UCF 66
Saint Josephs 61 FINAL
Dayton 80
UCLA 62 FINAL
(19) Stanford 67
Santa Clara 42 FINAL
San Diego 51
Virginia Tech 43 FINAL
(7) Florida State 82
SMU 59 FINAL
Memphis 71
Lehigh 75 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Rhode Island 53 FINAL
Duquesne 66
North Florida 35 FINAL
(20) Fla Gulf Coast 74
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
Jacksonville 55
USC Upstate 45 FINAL
Northern Ky 64
Lipscomb 69 FINAL
Stetson 92
Nebraska 65 FINAL
(14) Iowa 74
Saint Peters 57 FINAL
Marist 62
Navy 60 FINAL
Bucknell 49
Lafayette 56 FINAL
American Univ 79
Colgate 45 FINAL
Army 48
Georgia 41 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 75
Dartmouth 71 FINAL
Brown 53
Penn 50 FINAL
Columbia 36
(13) Princeton 70 FINAL
Cornell 37
Kansas 49 FINAL
Kansas State 57
Harvard 68 FINAL
Yale 63
(15) North Carolina 75 FINAL
(10) Louisville 77
San Jose St 99 FINAL
UNLV 97
Houston 39 FINAL
Tulane 64
Utah State 58 FINAL
Colorado State 76
Colorado 68 FINAL
(8) Oregon State 65
New Mexico 66 FINAL
Wyoming 55
Minnesota 71 FINAL
Ohio State 83
(12) Kentucky 76 FINAL
(11) Miss State 67
San Diego State 44 FINAL
Nevada 50
Niagara 57 FINAL
Fairfield 65
Texas Tech 40 FINAL
West Virginia 59
Boise State 52 FINAL
Fresno State 55
Washington 23 2nd Half
California 32

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

Countdown to great deals

Bid March 15-23

    ADVERTISEMENT

    ADVERTISEMENT

    ADVERTISEMENT

    ADVERTISEMENT

    Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

    ADVERTISEMENT

     
    Close