They may have been new faces for the Tennessee coaching staff, but most of the players were the same as last year, as the Vols started spring practice Monday morning at Haslam Field.

The Vols welcome seven new assistant coaches to this year’s staff, while 20 of 22 starters return from last season.

UT’s spring camp runs through the Orange and White game on Saturday, April 21 at Neyland Stadium. The Vols have the second-latest camp in the SEC behind new member Texas A&M.

For a program with abundant turnover in many respects, the offense is one thing that has remained relatively in tact.

“It’s the same team we pretty much had last year,” rising junior quarterback Tyler Bray said. “Just mentally, we’re a lot better this year. Guys are more of a team. Last year we had some guys separate and kind of do their own thing, but this year we’re a unit.”

Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney, who is also taking over as quarterbacks coach, is one of three coaches who has been with head coach Derek Dooley since he was hired. Chaney’s been the offensive coordinator at Tennessee since Lane Kiffin’s only season in 2009.

“Just trying to polish things up,” Bray said. “Everyone knows this offense — same as last year. No changes. Try to go out there, trying to polish it up and just get the tempo going.”

The Vols need to heal up on offense too.

Wide receiver Justin Hunter is on his way back from an ACL tear against Florida in September that derailed what looked to be a promising season. He’s no-contact this spring, but is doing more than some expected.

“It got a lot easier since I first hurt it,” Hunter said. “It was real painful and everything like that, but going through it real nice and smooth now.”

Added Dooley: “He probably did a little more than what we had anticipated back in February. They’re moving along. Him and Brent (Brewer) are moving at a pretty good pace. We have to be smart about how we manage them.”

Da’Rick Rogers had successful surgery on his right index finger in early January, and Bray broke his throwing thumb in October. Both are fine now, but worked in the offseason to make sure they were full-go for the spring.

In the running game, the Vols lose two-year starter Tauren Poole, leaving rising junior Rajion Neal and rising sophomore Marlin Lane as the leaders of the ground game. The two combined for 414 yards and four touchdowns on the ground last year.

Dooley said in the spring press conference Sunday that running the ball better would be a top priority. The Vols averaged 90.1 yards a game on the ground last season — 116th out of 120 teams in the country.

“On offense, obviously we’re going to have to find a way to run the football a lot better than we did last year,” Dooley said Sunday. “That’s going to be a big emphasis this spring. We’re thin at wideout anyway, so it’s a good excuse to go out there and hammer it every day to try to figure out how we’re going to run the ball.”

Neal will make the permanent move to tailback after juggling time in the backfield and at wide receiver. However, Lane is currently at the top of the depth chart.

“We’re going to need each other to push each other to keep on, keep working and working,” Lane said. “So pretty much, go out and competing against each other is going to make us a lot better.”