Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder
has turned the ball over four times the past two weeks after not doing it in the first four weeks of the season, and the offense has had a hard time putting the ball in the end zone. But the 2011 first-round draft choice isn't going to let negative thoughts affect how he plays Sunday against Arizona, or how he plays the rest of the season.
"It's frustrating. In the first quarter, we were down three times and kicked three field goals and got nine points. In the NFL that's going to probably come back and bite you, and it did," Ponder said of last week's loss at Washington. "We'd like to have 17 or 21 points and we didn't. There are things, we always have something to get better at, and right now we have to get better at the red zone.
"I take it week-to-week, play-to-play. Obviously when you throw an interception or a pick-six I'm frustrated for a moment, definitely," said Ponder, who threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown by former Vikings safety Madieu Williams last week. "The big thing is I have so many teammates that pick me up immediately, and Adrian Peterson is a guy who always stands out.
"We've been in the red zone, I think coach was telling us 22 times. We're one of five teams that's been in there 20-plus times, so you know we're moving the ball as an offense, we just need to score touchdowns."
On his mindset, Ponder said: "I think I've done a better job this year of forgetting about [bad plays] and moving on and staying positive. The same thing goes for the rest of the week. I'm frustrated Monday watching the film but [by Wednesday] I've forgotten about it and moved onto the next game.
"I think I do a good job of being critical of myself but not being too negative on myself and learning from it and moving on and making myself better because of those mistakes."
Even though the Vikings kicked four field goals and failed to score touchdowns in the red zone against the Redskins, Ponder doesn't believe the overall scheme of the offense will change.
"We're not changing anything, we just need to be better in our execution," he said. "I need to do a better job of finding the open guy and not forcing things and if things aren't there I need to do a better job of creating a scramble drill. Because especially in the end zone when you create a scramble drill I think the guys have more time to get open. We're just going back to execution and we're not going to change anything really."
Asked why a team can march 80 yards and then get inside the 20-yard line and have a problem scoring, Ponder had this explanation:
"It's so little space. It's a lot tighter, the throws are tighter, the coverage is a lot better, there's less room to operate our offense. The defense definitely has an advantage when they're down in the red zone."
What is the scouting report on Arizona?
"They have has an exceptional defense, very good, very different schematically and bring different pressures and very good in coverage and getting to the quarterback. That's going to be a tough challenge for us," Ponder said.
Gophers defense fails in second half
Unless the Gophers can find away to play two good halves of defense, this football team isn't going to win another game this season. The pattern has been the same in all three Big Ten losses.
Against Iowa and Northwestern, the Gophers actually had an opportunity to win both games, as the defense shut down their opponent's offense in the second half of each game.
Against the Badgers, the score was 14-6 at halftime, with the Gophers doing a good job of at least holding down the home team's running game. They also could have made it closer had they made the 51-yard field goal at the end of the half.
In the first half, the Gophers had 155 net yards to the Badgers' 199 and a time of possession of 14 minutes, 24 seconds to Wisconsin's 15:36.
But the second half was all in the Badgers' favor. A.J. Barker's touchdown reception near the end of the third quarter pulled the Gophers within 24-13, but an onside kick failed and the Badgers went 60 yards in 11 plays to extend their lead to 31-13, then took advantage of Philip Nelson's second interception by going 44 yards in three plays, and then it was 38-13 and the game was all but over.
The Badgers rushed for 337 yards, including 230 in the second half, against a Gophers defense that had its worst day of the season. And in the second half the Badgers had the ball 19:20 compared to only 9:46 for the visitors.
No trees in center field
The word from Twins President Dave St. Peter: "Some trees might be installed in Target Field before the 2013 season, but they won't be in the batting eye like they were before, because while everybody likes trees, they're beautiful, we do think that they have a disruptive result in terms of the playability of the facility -- and that's not just from our players, it's from umpires and other players."
The Twins are expecting to sell 20,000 season tickets in 2013 compared to 23,000 in 2012. Twins officials were in Fort Myers, Fla., this past week to among other things finalize the renovations of the Lee County Sports Complex, but nothing is official yet.
"I think we made good progress, and we're hopeful that the county board will take action on November 6th, in terms of approving a renovation," St. Peter said.
• University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler doesn’t want to hear any talk about tearing down Williams Arena and building a new Gophers basketball arena. Kaler is in favor of remodeling Williams, similar to the remodeling job of Northrop Auditorium.
• With this being the last year of a three-year lease between the Vikings and Minnesota State Mankato for training camp, Vikings representatives were in Mankato on Friday working on a new three-year lease with the team to stay in the newer, modern Julia Sears Residence Hall. The Vikings spend close to $1 million over the course of their time in Mankato for camp.
• The Vikings won’t lose any extra money when it comes to gate receipts and other income when they play the Steelers in London next year. Instead, the NFL will give the Vikings the amount of an average home gate at the Metrodome.
• Former Twins outfielder Delmon Young has been excellent this postseason, hitting .294 with a .351 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage for the Tigers. He hit a career-low .267 this season.
• Former Vikings receiver Sidney Rice is really starting to perform for the Seahawks after an injury-plagued 2011, as he needed shoulder surgery over the offseason. He has 22 catches for 312 yards and two touchdowns through seven games, after catching 32 passes for 484 yards and two TDs in all of 2011. Rice also caught the big 46-yard score to beat the Patriots last Sunday.
• The New York Times ran a lengthy profile of Vikings punter Chris Kluwe this weekend. The article focused on Kluwe’s advocacy of gay marriage rights and his unique and supportive family upbringing. The article ended by calling Kluwe “the most interesting man in the NFL.”