WHEELING -Wheeling residents Tanner Yoho and Shane Caldwell weren't too pleased with how last season went for the West Virginia Mountaineers.
''Disappointed is an understatement,'' Yoho said. ''That was a rough year.''
''They didn't play as a team,'' Caldwell added. ''I thought it was a lot of individuals. The first couple games, they had every quarterback going in. We didn't know who was starting, who was going to be good that day, who was off.
PHOTO BY TONY VIOLA
West Virginia quarterback Paul Millard hands off to Dustin Garrison during a practice drill Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium.
''Last year they played down to teams. And they also played up. Look at the Texas game (a 47-40 WVU overtime loss), they expected to crush (WVU) and (Texas) came into their house and they put on a show. Then when they went to Kansas, they played down and they lost.''
Still, the pair will be the first to admit they still bleed Old Gold and Blue.
They made it known as they were apart of the estimated 1,500 fans that attended the Mountaineers' open practice at Wheeling Island Stadium on Saturday.
''It's awesome,'' Yoho said. ''This is the first opportunity for most people to get a chance to see them. Most of us really don't get down to Morgantown a lot.''
While the two sat in the stands, they saw positives from both the offense and defense.
''Defense is looking a lot better,'' Caldwell said. ''I like the intensity. The intensity is nice.
''(Quarterback) Skyler (Howard) is looking pretty good. He's a junior college guy, but he's really stepped up.''
One thing is clear to both Caldwell and Yoho. This is a make or break year for Coach Dana Holgorsen.
''This is his year to prove it,'' Yoho said. ''This is it. When he came in, he had a nice roster, but this is basically all him now.''
''Watching his practice, I like how he's really involved,'' Caldwell added. ''He's laid back, but he's involved. He's not one of those coaches that sits on the sideline and just calls in the play. He's yelling at kids and telling them what to do. He knows the game.''
Holgorsen also knows there's been a rift between the Mountaineers and their fans. That's one of the reasons why the team made the trip to Wheeling, something that both Caldwell and Yoho said they would like to see become an annual event.
''I thought there would be a whole lot more people here than this, but if they do this every year, I think they could get this place packed,'' Caldwell said.