On Wednesday morning Tennessee football assistant coaches talked to the media for the first time this spring and had much praise as well as high expectations for their players in the upcoming season.

While much of the hoopla surrounding the first week of spring practice was centered around the defense getting into the new scheme of things in defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri’s new 3-4 defense, other coaches really liked what they have seen so far on the offensive side of the football.

One area that the coaches are extremely pleased with is the quarterback position, which is led by junior Tyler Bray.

“I’m tickled to death with them (quarterbacks),” offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said. “I don’t think we have a guy in our room that can’t play in the SEC. My job is to keep developing them one day at a time and make as much competition in that room as I possibly can.”

Bray, who ranks seventh in career passing touchdowns in program history with 35, should provide a huge help to sophomore quarterback Justin Worley and four-star incoming freshman Nathan Peterman.

Worley threw for 604 yards and one touchdown while completing 48-of-67 passes last season filling in for Bray while he was out with a fractured thumb. Peterman comes into UT after being rated the eighth best pro-style quarterback in the 2012 recruiting class.

“I wouldn’t trade this group for anything,” Chaney said.

Not only does the quarterback position look in good hands, but the running back position looks to be in the same boat with first year coach and former Vol running back Jay Graham hoping to get UT’s running game back to a threat in the SEC.

Sophomore back Marlin Lane returns as the team’s leading rusher from last season in which he carried the ball 75 times totaling 280 yards and two touchdowns. However, the Vols have a lot of work to do this spring in the running game as they only averaged 2.7 yards per carry. They also came in at 116th in the country in the country in rushing yards per game (90.1).

“I think 5 yards per carry is always important to get to and that’s always the mark you want to get to,” Graham said. “But also managing the run game on first down you want to get it to second and choice downs where you have an option to run and pass.”

Other backs that will compete for a spot this spring are expected to be sophomores Rajion Neal and Tom Smith. Incoming freshman recruits Alden Hill and Davante Bourque will compete for spots as well.

“I think every guy has to strive to be an every-down back,” Graham said. “I don’t want to be in a situation where I have to put different guys in to do different things we have to be good at everything.”

The running game and the lineup front for the Vols go hand in hand and will have to both be on the top of their game this year if they want to get back to the ground-and-pound game that has been UT’s staple.

Senior Dallas Thomas, who is listed at tackle but is being experimented with at the guard position this spring, will be expected to lead up front for the Vols as he has started in 25 straight games over the last two seasons. Junior Zach Fulton will be back in full pads soon; he was out with a stress fracture in his foot that he suffered in offseason workouts.

“I want to play obviously the best five guys we have,” said offensive line coach Sam Pittman. “We went over the depth chart the other day and we felt like we’ve got the guys in the right spot in order to help us win.”

Perhaps the position with the most depth on the team is the receiving corps, which will be ecstatic to have a healthy junior receiver Justin Hunter back for the season. He and fellow junior Da’Rick Rogers are expected to be one of the country’s top duos at wide receiver.

On top of that the Vols will also look for senior Zach Rogers to continue to bring his leadership skills to the field and expect five-star JUCO incoming recruit Cordarrelle Patterson to make an instant impact on the gridiron. Tight end Mychal Rivera returns as the team’s second leading receiver from a year ago in which he caught 29 passes for 344 yards.

All in all the offense for the 2012 Vols looks in good hands as they return with a great deal of experience, with 10 returning starters, and they are being coached by a coaching staff that Dooley believes is the best he has been a part of since being at UT.