Tennessee offensive coordinator Mike DeBord is one of the biggest question marks surrounding this team entering spring practice.

Is he capable of developing Josh Dobbs? Can he re-emerge as a viable coach after spending the last two seasons as an administrator at Michigan and an eight-year absence from the college game? Can he leverage his offensive line background to improve the worst unit on the team in 2014?

We’ll have to wait on those answers. But on Thursday, DeBord gave us some insight into why coach Butch Jones hired him.

The Vols will retain more or less the same playbook the team used last season with coordinator Mike Bajakian, DeBord said. He’ll add “a few wrinkles” with plays, but the team will use the same terminology and formations. That was important to Jones during the interview process, apparently. It seems that Jones wants to make sure that the youth on the team can continue to develop without going backward to re-learn plays.

“It would be like being in a French class for three years, and all of the sudden you walk in, and now it’s Spanish,” DeBord said. “You’d be going, ‘Huh? What?’ You’d be talking about the same things, but it’s a totally different language. That’s where we haven’t taken a step back.”

As for that offensive line, DeBord and position coach Don Mahoney have worked together closely to evaluate players, talk technique and set priorities. DeBord identified the offensive line’s footwork as the No. 1 issue in ’14, and that’s the first thing the coaching staff has emphasized.

DeBord wants to evaluate the team’s toughness when the Vols put on pads for practice, but is encouraged by the progress with technique made apparent in just two practices.

“Our offensive line I believe is going to play really well. I think that’s going to be a surprise that people may not think about right now,” DeBord said. “I like the way Josh is playing right now. We’ve got two good running backs. I like the talent and I like the kind of kids they are. They really work hard at football. They’re studying it and they really work hard at the execution.”

Whenever DeBord has spoken to the media, he’s seemed thrilled to be at Tennessee and overjoyed to be coaching once again. His resume includes stops at Colorado State, Ball State, Northwestern, Michigan, Central Michigan, the Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears.

“Without a doubt, the tempo of practice (at Tennessee) is the fastest I’ve ever been around,” DeBord said. “In the NFL, the coaches I worked for there, they were big into tempo and going fast and all that, but nothing like what Butch has. And at Michigan, we practiced fast, but again, it wasn’t ever like this. I love it. It really makes the players concentrate.”