By Steve Williams

Tennessee will “checker Neyland” this coming Saturday night for its real home opener of 2015, much like Oklahoma “striped out” its stadium in Crimson and Cream when the Vols visited the Sooners for the first time ever last September.

I’m sure the UT fans will make the Orange and White squares look very neat and nice, much to the envy of the visitors from out West.

More importantly, however, is whether or not Tennessee’s offensive line will be able to hold its own against the Sooners on the green grass of Shields-Watkins Field?

The color of that part of the field in last year’s game in Norman was bloody red. Oklahoma had such an advantage in experience and size, it was a physical mismatch.

Tennessee started true freshmen at right guard, right tackle and tight end on that side of the line. Other starters in the Vols’ OL were red-shirt juniors with limited experience.

Quarterback Justin Worley was thrown around like a rag doll. To his credit, he showed guts and kept getting back up.

The entire Tennessee team in fact battled from start to finish in what ended up being a 34-10 loss. If the Sooners hadn’t scored on a 100-yard interception late in the contest, the final score could have been a little more respectable.

Still, there was no hiding the fact the Vols had come out of that game black and blue. An open date the following week for Butch Jones’ young team couldn’t have come at a better time.

Fast forward … The finished picture of Tennessee’s 2014 campaign wasn’t a masterpiece, but it survived the trash dump, thanks to quarterback Joshua Dobbs.

While Worley had been a Warrior, Dobbs became a Houdini, or at least it seemed that way. Josh’s escape ability made Tennessee’s offensive line woes disappear, too.

When Worley couldn’t continue after being injured at Ole Miss and Nathan Peterman couldn’t move the offense in his starting role against Alabama, Dobbs finally got the chance to play on Oct. 25 with the Vols 3-4 and trailing the Crimson Tide.

The following week, Dobbs brought the Vols from behind late in the fourth quarter at Columbia and beat South Carolina 45-42 in overtime – an upset win that enabled Tennessee to eventually get to 6-6 and earn its first bowl trip in four years.

Meanwhile, the Sooners, after getting off to a 4-0 start, finished 8-4 with a 38-35 overtime loss at home to rival Oklahoma State.

The Vols also enjoyed better post-season results as they routed Iowa 45-28 in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville, while Clemson blasted Oklahoma 40-6 in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando.

The two teams definitely finished the campaign going in opposite directions.

This fourth all-time meeting between the Vols and Sooners will once again be a key early-season matchup, and Tennessee will again be entering it with question marks regarding its offensive line.

There will be different shapes and colors in the stadium this time, but the biggest difference will be Tennessee having the right guy at quarterback.