The Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum was home to the Raiders for decades, but there were certain elements to the stadium that didn’t exactly feel like “home-field advantage.”
For kickers, the Coliseum presented challenges early in the year because of the dirt infield that would reside until roughly Week 4 or Week 5 of the regular season. In addition to the dirt, the wind off the Bay funneled into the Coliseum and created a unique swirling pattern, which made it even harder for placekickers to adjust their kicking lines; however, all this is in the past, as the Silver and Black will have near-perfect conditions every gameday, or at least according to Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson.
The third-year pro out of Auburn is thrilled to be in Las Vegas, and like his teammates, is overjoyed with Allegiant Stadium. While Carlson enjoyed his time in Oakland, he recently shared what it was like adjusting to the conditions of the Coliseum, and becoming comfortable kicking off the dirt.
“Oakland was — from a kicker’s perspective — definitely one of the tougher places to play,” Carlson said. “The wind in the Bay Area mixed with that dirt. So, [Allegiant Stadium] is quite the opposite, considering we’re going to have perfect conditions with the home games and stuff.”
Before the practices were conducted at Allegiant, members of the Silver and Black pondered whether the field would feature turf or real grass, and when the players arrived for their first tour of the stadium, they were thrilled to feel authentic grass beneath their feet.
“Obviously with turf, you know exactly what you’re getting every time with turf,” Carlson explained. “It’s not going to tear up or anything, or get muddy, or whatever it is. That’s the benefit of turf, but well-kept grass, like we’re going to have at Allegiant, it’s classic and it’s hard to beat.”
There’s a lot that goes into a kicker’s preparation that your average fan might not take into consideration, but the conditions play an important role in helping Carlson get the football through the uprights.
To further support Carlson’s claims, special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia expressed his thoughts on the conditions, as well as the Raiders’ new venue.
“The great part about it is, it’s grass indoors, so that was exciting for all the players,” Bisaccia said Monday. “I thought it was a fast surface. It will be interesting to see if we ever open up the one end zone and what that looks like. But I thought Coach Gruden did a great job of getting us over there twice and getting us acclimated to that new facility.
“We got the looking around part out of the way. I was probably one of the worst ones. (laughter) You stay in the league a long enough time to get to play in every NFL stadium, and we talk about that as coaches and players – that you can be around long enough to play in all the stadiums – so, the venue is spectacular. It was good to get over there and play.”
One crucial element that will be missing however is Raider Nation.
Crowd noise is important in all three phases of the game and while the noise level would be minimal with Carlson on the field, it will be a little eerie without anyone in attendance. Nonetheless, Carlson and his fellow teammates are prepared to take full advantage of their new digs.