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The “Q” Are

Christian Ponder and the

Vikings

the real deal?

Inside:

PLUS: Exclusive interview with Ponder, Peterson and Harvin!

The History of the NFL & How to Stay Fit in 10 Simple Steps!


A Letter From the Editor.. Nick Hinzmann

Dear Readers, I have always been fascinated with the idea of my own magazine. I remember when I was 10 years old and my parents bought our first computer. My friends and I would sit around for hours, trying to put cool stories, pictures and information together. None-the-less this never really worked out for us, as we weren’t very good with the use of graphic technology (not to mention our vocabulary was a bit under the radar). However, we perservered and tried and tried again, without giving up. It wasn’t only magazines we tried at, books, publications, almost everything you can think of. Now, I am a twenty-three year old college student and have finally been givin the opportunity to create my own magazine. When I first sat down to begin creating it, I thought to myself, “how am I going to go about this on my own!?” I gave it good, hard thought, and I finally came to a conclusion; if I did my project on something I enjoyed, I would also enjoy doing the project. After realizing sports was probably the way to go, I decided to choose to do my magazine based around the Minnesota Vikings. I grew up in a household where the Minnesota Vikings game was on every Sunday. My mother would be upstairs cooking our big Sunday afternoon meal, while my Dad and I hung out downstairs watching the games. My passion for Minnesota Vikings football has only grown throughout the years (although sometimes it is hard when they continuously have losing seasons), but I will always be a true fan of them. Now you know why I chose to write this magazine. After getting the basic functions of the program Adobe InDesign under my belt, I was able to complete the project. After looking back, it was long and tedious work, but it was thoroughly enjoyed, especially when looking at my final product after the effort put forth to get to this position! Thanks for reading, Nicholas Hinzmann Nicholas Hinzmann

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Missile

Ten Useful Tips to Staying Fit Throughout the Winter Ever try a diet or workout routine with minimal success? Follow these 10 helpful tips to keep yourself fit throughout the winter! by: Hansa D. Bhargava, MD 10 Vegetables and Fruits are your friends- Okay, this is a cliché. However, it’s an important one to follow. They are a lot more healthier for people than those sweets and soda that dominate our culture. 9 Breads and starchy foods should be acquaintances- Breads and starchy foods, such as pasta and potatoes are a part of any good meal. But that’s where they should stay. They can go directly to your belly if you over indulge. 8 Drink water- Human beings are mostly water. Water allows you to stay hydrated, it is much more healthy for you than coffee or soda. Beyond that, it’s also very healthy when it comes to exercising. First time exercisers should be careful to drink plenty of water so as not to overexert themselves when starting out. 7 Walk to classes, don’t drive –If you plan ahead of time, there is no reason why you can’t take some extra time to walk to class. It’s a good way to work off some calories, and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to plan. 6 Find healthier snacks than sweets- Candy is delicious. It is among the greatest tragedies of life that candy is also bad for you. The occasional candy or sweet is fine, however, snacking on them is a terrible idea. There are plenty of alternatives. 5 Soda…master of deception- Drinking soda such as Pepsi or Coke is fun for the occasional snack or dinner drink. However, drinking too much of it will only lead to weight gain. A tried and true experiment for the soda guzzler is to go a week without drinking soda and then weigh yourself. Those who drink a lot of soda might be surprised at the few pounds quickly dropped. 4 Take Advantage of the Rec Center perks (we do pay for it)- Visiting the Rec Center is a great place to start off exercising. There are weight machines, a rock wall, a swimming pool, and a small army of treadmills. Beyond that, there are personal trainers who are there for the sole purpose of helping you get fit. There are even classes to take at the Rec Center, such as Spinning, Sports Circuit, Hard Core, Butts and Guts and Pump and Petal. 3 Run or walk socially- It’s often been said that no matter how many times you run on treadmill, there’s no substitute for the real thing. Running or walking regularly is a great way to stay fit. Ritter Park is not too far from campus. It offers a walking track that allows you to circle the entire park. Find a friend or two who you regularly can walk with as part of your daily routines. Another good place to run or walk around is Marshall’s campus. 2 Find an active hobby you enjoy- It doesn’t matter what it is, whether it’s hiking, biking, lifting weights, yoga, Pilates, dancing, martial arts training or kickboxing, there is something out there for you to enjoy besides sitting on the couch all day playing video games or watching movies on Netflix. 1 Get into the habit of thinking healthy- The key to staying in shape is to not over indulge in eating foods, consuming drinks and doing other activities that are not good for your body. Drinking a soda, eating bread or enjoying pasta now and then isn’t bad. But, letting yourself slip into an overall unhealthy lifestyle is only going to hurt you now and in your future

n i l l It’s a

. . . . e m a n the w ff o Take

g r e n me

u i m e r p e l i s s i ith M

. k n i y dr

Property of Missile Energy c. 2012 6

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Are the Vikings

the Real Deal? By Bill Barnwell grandland.com writer

This week, “Is This Real?” moves onto the rapidly expanding bandwagon of the 3-1 Minnesota Vikings, who are improbably tied for the division lead in the NFC North with the Bears. For a team whose biggest signing this offseason after a 3-13 season was backup tight end John Carlson, the Vikings have basically stood pat with their core of talent and emerged as an impressive team during the first quarter of the NFL season. But are they for real? Well, the answer to that question starts by reexamining last year’s team, one that was better than a lot of people realized. You know the stats that came up in the seemingly ill-fated 49ers preview I wrote before the season? The ones that San Francisco have ignored en route to an impressive 3-1 start of their own? Well, they sure seem to work for the Vikings. Last year, Minnesota was 3-13, but their point differential was that of a 5.5-win team, suggesting that the Vikings’ record undersold their actual underlying level of performance by about 2.5 wins. That showed up in Minnesota’s record in games decided by a touchdown or less; Minnesota was a dismal 2-9 in those games, including an 0-4 start that saw them blow double-digit halftime leads in each of their first three games. The last team that was so bad in those close games was the 1998 Panthers, who went 2-9 in those close games, 2-3 otherwise, and underperformed their Pythagorean expectation by 2.1 wins. The next year, Carolina went 8-8. What really surprised me was what little faith Minnesota’s fans had in its own team. Since part of my job is writing about teams in ways that aren’t common, I’m used to seeing the occasional insult about how I’m a moron or how stats can’t fully comprehend the greatness of Antonio Cromartie or the 2010 Denver Broncos. It happens. When I didn’t include the Vikings in my list of the league’s worst teams heading into the season and actually went ahead and predicted that they would finish with a gaudy 7-9 record, I actually got messages from Vikings fans who thought I was dumb for overestimating their team. That never happens. It speaks to just how beaten down this franchise has been since that narrow loss to the Packers in the NFC Championship Game. Few teams have had it worse, that’s for sure. Brett Favre went from conquering hero to disastrous sideshow in a year. Sidney Rice emerged as a star and then, just as quickly, got hurt again and left town. Adrian Peterson signed a big contract and tore up his knee. The entire market turned on Brad Childress in 2010, and during the following season, they followed it by scapegoating Donovan McNabb for the team’s problems. And all that time, they’ve had the specter of a stadium debate hanging over the team’s head, leaving the organization loath to spend money to make dramatic improvements. This sounds like a lot of fun, right? Well, most of that is now in the past. The new stadium’s been approved. Peterson has made a miraculous recovery from knee surgery and been both healthy and effective. Passing on Rice appears to be one of the best moves the team could have made, while Favre and McNabb are blog fodder. Their quarterback didn’t inspire much confidence during his rookie season, but this year, Christian Ponder’s dramatically changed his game, which is one of the three reasons why the Vikings have improved upon even that 5.5-win estimate of their level of play from a year ago. 8

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You can take a look at Christian Ponder’s season stats as easily as I can. Even if you don’t put a lot of stock in statistics, you can probably agree that improving your completion percentage from 54.3 percent to 68.3 percent without throwing an interception all year represents significant improvement. What’s noticeable, though, is how the Minnesota offense has changed this year, and how it has put Ponder in positions where he can succeed. We all hear about making the game easier for a young quarterback by keeping him out of third-and-long. Most of the time, that’s linked to an offensive strategy that’s built around running the ball on first and second down with nine men in the box, and it usually results in third-and-long, anyway. This year, the Vikings have helped keep Ponder out of third-and-long, but they’ve done it by throwing the ball on first down, not running it. The Vikings are throwing the ball 12 percent more frequently on first down this year than they did a year ago in two-score situations (e.g., not blowouts), and it’s helped create shorter third downs. Last year, the average third-down situation for the Vikings came up with a full 8.0 yards to go; this year, that figure is down to just 6.5 yards. And Ponder’s been converting them at nearly a 40 percent clip, up from 35 percent last year.

Will Christian Ponder help the Vikings make a playoff run; or is his early-season success a fluke?

Of course, throwing on first down doesn’t mean anything if you don’t execute, and Ponder’s been phenomenal at that so far this season. His statistics on first down look like the work of a drastically different quarterback. No, really:

Ponder Cmp Att 2011 54 106 2012 29 42

Cmp % Yds Yds/Att TD 50.9% 628 5.9 7 69.0% 293 7.0 0

Ponder is far more efficient on first down, and it has shown in that small sample. Last year, he picked up 10 yards or more on 24.5 percent of his first down passes and five yards or more on 40.6 of them; this year, those figures are up to 33.3 percent and an even 50 percent, respectively. When you can get five yards through the air that frequently, it’s actually smarter to throw on first down than it is to hand the ball off to Peterson. And then, once defenses start respecting your ability to throw on first down, you can start handing the ball to Peterson against softer fronts and get more out of him. Man, football is easy when you complete 70 percent of your passes! More than anything, Ponder is avoiding the catastrophic mistakes with interceptions and sacks that ended drives for him last year. His sack rate last year was a dismal 9.3 percent, driven by his propensity for scrambling at the slightest bit of pressure and holding on to the ball for far too long. This year, that rate is down to 6.1 percent. If you saw him in the victory over the 49ers, you wouldn’t have recognized Ponder; he stood in the pocket against a number of terrifying 49ers blitzes and showed incredible poise, making his throws on time. When he moved out of the pocket, he never panicked and made the correct decision on virtually every play, throwing the ball away when nobody was open and there was nothing to be had. It’s been one of the biggest improvements made by any player over the course of this past offseason, and it should stick as Ponder grows older. He’s also been aided by the arrival of left tackle Matt Kalil, who has been quietly impressive after being installed at the line’s most difficult position from Day 1. And, yes, there are those zero interceptions. Before I start screaming about regression and Ponder’s 4.5 percent interception rate last year, there’s certainly a precedent for guys producing huge drops in their interception rate during their second season in the pros. Josh Freeman is a perfect example, as he went from a staggering 6.2 percent interception rate as a rookie to a remarkable 1.3 percent clip during his sophomore campaign. Mark Sanchez’s dip wasn’t quite as extreme, but he followed a similar path. Obviously, Ponder’s going to throw some interceptions before the year is up — the 49ers dropped at least two picks against him in Week 3, and the Lions might have had a couple if they had a cornerback of any consequence — but he’s already gone a quarter of the season without throwing one. His interception rate may very well finish under 2 percent, which is a great way to get more out of your talent and finish more drives with points. So while Ponder won’t finish the year by completing 70 percent of his passes and avoiding interceptions altogether, we’re likely seeing a quarterback who has raised the level of his game during his second season. His performance matches up with the stats; the frantic quality to his game from a year ago is gone, and Ponder’s much better off for it. I never thought I’d say this, but I believe in Christian Ponder.

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While Ponder’s improvement has been the most noticeable change, the Vikings have enjoyed some lucky bounces that didn’t go their way a year ago. In 2011, Minnesota’s special teams ranked 27th in DVOA, notably finishing 31st in the “hidden” aspects of special teams performance that are out of their control. That includes things like field goal performance against the Vikings by the opposition and kickoff distance against them (after adjusting for the dome). This year, their hidden special teams performance against has been exactly league-average, and after dominating the scary-bad Lions special teams with both a kick return and a punt return for a touchdown last week, Minnesota’s special teams rate out as the best in football. Of course, it’s also safe to say that the Vikings won’t score 14 points a week on special teams, as they did last week, nor will they block a kick every other week, as they’ve done so far this year. Minnesota’s special teams might very well be good or even great, but nobody’s special teams are this good. And, of course, there’s that great underlying hidden indicator that doesn’t show up on tape: strength of schedule. While the Vikings just knocked off two playoff teams in consecutive weeks, their other two games were against the dregs of the AFC South, the Colts and Jaguars. This week, they finish up their tour of the friendly side of the league’s worst division with a game against the Titans, and follow that with a trip to Washington. From then on, the schedule gets tougher, but things get particularly dicey after their Week 11 bye. Minnesota will be on the road for four of their final six games, and the competition will be tough: The Vikings finish up with home-andhomes against the Bears and Packers, a trip to Houston, and a game in St. Louis. (Of course, the AFC South is so bad that they might get lucky and face a Texans team that’s resting its starters in Week 16.) Some of Minnesota’s performance this year undoubtedly comes down to a friendly strength of schedule, a factor that will be harder to come by later in the year. What does it all add up to? To me, it’s a Vikings team that will continue to exceed every expectation of their performance from before the season, but one that will struggle to be this good as the season goes along. Vikings fans might be eyeing the playoffs right now, but chances are that they finish within a game of .500 in a very respectable comeback season.

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Meet the Minnesota Vikings Players and Coaches

Hinzmann Photography

(Photo Essay)

Head Coach, Leslie Frazier

Quarterback, Christian Ponder

No matter what the occasion call Hinzmann Photography!

Runningback, Adrian Peterson

toll free at: 1-800-492-3928 or 1-712-249-2759 Email us to book your next occasion at: hinzmann@uni.edu 16

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Defensive End, Jared Allen


Fullback, Toby Gerhart

Linebacker, Chad Greenway

Kicker, Blair Walsh

Cornerback, Josh Robinson

Linebacker, E.J. Henderson 18

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The

y r o t s Hi

i t a N e h t f o

e u g a e L l l a b t o o F l a n o

1920:

*The American Professional Football Association was born. *There were fourteen teams, each paying a $100 membership fee. *Teams include: the Akron Pros, Buffalo All-Americans, Rock Island Independents, Rochester Jeffersons, Detroit Heralds, Cleveland Tigers, Columbus Panhandles, Decatur Staleys, Chicago Cardinals, Dayton Triangles, Canton Bulldogs, Hammond Pros, Chicago Tigers and Munci Flyers.

1922: *The name was changed from the APFA to the National Football League (NFL). *Two teams were added that are still in existence today. The Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers.

1932: *The NFL adds a new playoff system. * The league had only eight teams at this time. The Boston Braves, Brooklyn Dodgers, Chicago Bears, Chicago Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Portsmouth Spartans and Staten Island Stapletons

1950: *The NFL splits into two conferences, the Eastern Division and the Western Division. * In 1950, the NFL had 13 teams, 7 that are currently in the NFl. These 8 included: the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns.

1960: *The AFL begins operations, giving the NFL some competition. * The AFL had 8 teams including the Boston Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Houston Oilers, New York Titans, Denver Broncos, Dallas Texans, Oakland Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers. * The NFL had 13 teams. These included the Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore Colts, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, Green Bay Packers, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys

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1/2 Truth:

1967: *The NFL now splits into 4 divisions. The Eastern Conference dividing into the Capitol and Century Divisions, while the Western Conference divided into the Coastal and Central Divisions. *The NFL had 16 tesms by this point. *The AFL still had only an Eastern and Western division and 9 teams. *The first AFL-NFL Championship game was played, known as Super Bowl I. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.

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1970: *The AFL and NFL merge. AFL Eastern Division becomes AFC East, NFL Century Division becomes AFC Central AFL Western Division becomes AFC West NFL Capitol Division becomes NFC East, NFL Central Division becomes NFC Central NFL Coastal Division becomes NFC West. *The first year of Monday Night Football.

1980:

An NFL helmet from 1950

*The NFL adds Thursday Night Football. *The NFL now has 28 teams. 23 of which are still in existence today.

1989: *The NFL adds the concept of free agency. A free agent is defined as: any player who is not under contract to any team and thus has fully free rights to negotiate with any other team for new contract terms.

2002: *The NFL changes its season structure. It now includes a 4-game exhibition season (or preseason) running from early August to early September. a 16-game, 17-week regular season running from September to December or early January. a 12-team single-elimination playoff beginning in January, culminating in the Super Bowl in early.

2011-2012: *The NFL becomes the most attended domestic sports league in the world averaging over 67,394 fans per game. *The NFL adds new overtime rules, giving each team one possession, unless the first scores a touchdown.

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*The NFL currently has 32 teams from all over the United States.

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Northern Iowa Capstone Receives Highest Honor By: Nick Hinzmann Northern Iowan

The University of Northern Iowa has always strived to give students the opportunity to make the most of their college career. UNI has once again succeeded, this time through the Study Abroad Center, located in Gilchrist Hall. Through qualitative and quantitative research, Abroad101, the world’s largest study abroad review website, has ranked UNI’s Southern Italy Capstone as the number one short-term study abroad program in the United States. The trip, led by UNI Assistant Professor of Geology Chad Heinzel, took students on a journey through the powerful Roman Civilization, tracing their footsteps to learn from their successes and mistakes, in hopes to make our civilization better. “It’s always nice to be recognized for your hard work and efforts,” Heinzel said, “I enjoy sharing the experience with the students in hopes they go on to do bigger and better things.” The award not only reflects highly of the students and faculty on the trip, but the Study Abroad Center as a whole. “I think it is a clear indication of the quality of UNI short-term academic programs abroad,” stated Yana Cornish, director of the UNI Study Abroad Center. Abroad101 bases its rankings off of student reviews and takes into account the number of reviews available, recency of reviews available and data points throughout the review form. “Personally it’s [the award] really cool because it comes from the students,” stated UNI Short-Term Programs Advisor Devon Bilsing, “It’s really great to see students like the program.” The Study Abroad Center offers students the opportunity to study in over 60 countries, involving over 600 students. The Southern Italy Capstone isn’t the only award the center has received from Abroad101, however. Earlier this year, the Northern Iowa center was ranked fourth in the United States for the quality of its academic programs as well. “The Study Abroad Center will continue to strive to provide outstanding academic experiences for UNI students in various locations worldwide by continuing to offer a number of short-term courses and adding new programs, like winter capstone programs in Costa Rica or Nicaragua, Spring Break programs in Tanzania or South Africa and summer programs in Brazil and Germany,” Cornish concluded. 24

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The "Q"  

A magazine about Minnesota sports and the NFL

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