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Sun., Mar. 08, 2015 1:30 PM PDT
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Chargers Relish Challenge of the Black Hole
One of the biggest challenges an offense faces in the NFL is having to play on the road in front of raucous fans. Many defenders feed off a crowd’s energy, so playing disciplined football is a must when away from home.
That is especially true this Sunday.
The Bolts head to O.Co Coliseum where they will be faced with the infamous Black Hole. Add in a tough, hardnosed Raiders defense and the Chargers are aware of the challenge that awaits them.
“It’s a tough place to play just from the standpoint of it being the Black Hole,” said Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. “It’s kind of its own unique place, but they have some talent on that football team, especially defensively. They present a number of challenges from the standpoint of diverse defenses. They give you a lot of different looks. They have multiple personnel groups and you really have to put your work in to be prepared for what you’re seeing. Athletically, they have some talented players. That’s one of the things that’s always been characteristic of the Raiders. So once again it’s going to be really on us (to) execute what our plan is and make sure that we do it the right way.”
That includes communicating properly on offense, particular along the line. Whisenhunt said he isn’t sure who will comprise the starting five up front, but he knows the value of having a guy like Nick Hardwick when it comes to playing in the Black Hole.
“Nick Hardwick provides great leadership for those guys,” he said. “As long as we have one or two veterans that can help keep everybody together, we’ll have five guys that show up and play (well).”
Hardwick himself relishes the opportunity to play in Oakland, as he says one of the most satisfying feelings is when a team is able to perform on the road in harsh environments.
“It’s obviously going to be loud and it’s a fun environment to play in,” he said. “People go absolutely bananas. An 8:30 start will give them plenty of time to have fun beforehand, so they will be stirred up and we’ve got to be loud and set in our communication. Everyone needs to have an understanding of that going in, and we’ll be ok.”
That communication isn’t limited just to the offensive line but to the offense as a whole as Eddie Royal explained the challenge that Oakland fans present for the visiting team.
“We know they’re going to have passionate fans,” he said. “They support their team and they’ll say whatever they can to take us out of our game. But that makes for a great environment for a football game and we’re excited about the challenge playing there brings.”
The offense isn’t the only unit looking forward to playing in Oakland. Donald Butler had the same reaction when it comes to playing in the Black Hole.
“I love playing there,” he said. “It’s always a physical game and the fans really get into it. I love fan participation. When they contribute it makes for a better game.”