ATHENS — When you’re seen as the No. 1 team in most preseason rankings and you return a possible Heisman Trophy quarterback in Carson Beck, you don’t have as many questions as most college football teams.

But that doesn’t mean Georgia is without fault, as the Bulldogs do have some areas that need to be addressed.

And with spring practice set to start in mid-March, ESPN’s Mark Schlabach honed in one area where the Bulldogs will need some new faces to replace some prior defensive stars.

“Georgia’s pass defense was great again last season, ranking sixth in the FBS in yards allowed per attempt,” Schlabach said. “But the Bulldogs will have to do some reloading in the secondary with safeties Javon Bullard and Tykee Smith and lockdown cornerback Kamari Lassiter departing for the NFL. Coach Kirby Smart has loaded up on highly regarded defensive backs, and piecing together a reliable rotation will be a key in the spring.”

Lassiter, Bullard and Smith all earned All-SEC honors for the Bulldogs last season and are all likely to be taken in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft. Lassiter and Bullard were multi-year starters, while Smith was Georgia’s most disruptive playmaker in 2023.

Perhaps working in Georgia’s favor though is that the Bulldogs almost always seem to have well-coached defensive backs. So much so that it does somewhat impact the NFL draft stock of those who have exited the Georgia program.

“They’re hard to evaluate because they’re so well coached,” ESPN’s Matt Miller said in a conference call. “I feel like this used to be a thing at Alabama as well. When you watch a Kirby Smart defensive back, you know they’re coached up well. I don’t want to say maxed out but they’ve been coached so well for 3,4,5 years, you kind of wonder how much better can they get?

“I saw that at the Senior Bowl especially with Bullard. That’s the first day of practices and he’s already the leader of the secondary. He’s getting guys lined up right, he’s communicating with the coaches like he’s been with them for two years instead of one day.”

Georgia isn’t starting completely over in the secondary, as All-American Malaki Starks returns for the Bulldogs. Daylen Everette started 14 games for Georgia last season opposite Lassiter and will look to continue to improve as he enters his junior season.

Julian Humphrey and Daniel Harris will compete to start in Lassiter’s place. They both publicly announced they would enter the transfer portal, before opting to remain at Georgia. But don’t count out freshman Ellis Robinson, who finished as the No. 2 overall prospect in the 2024 recruiting cycle.

At safety and star, Georgia has a number of experienced and talented options to throw out there. Joenel Aguero is the front-runner to replace Smith at star, while Dan Jackson, David Daniel-Sisavanh and JaCorey Thomas will all lock to crack the starting lineup at safety. Georgia did bring in Alabama transfer Jake Pope, who has a history of playing with new safeties coach Travaris Robinson.

Robinson takes over for Will Muschamp, who has moved into an analyst role for Georgia this season. The Bulldogs also brought in Donte Williams to be the cornerbacks coach, as Fran Brown is now the head coach at Syracuse.

With all the turnover in the secondary, both on the field and on the coaching staff, the defensive backfield is certainly a position to watch for Georgia this spring.

The Bulldogs will wrap up spring practice on April 13, when the Bulldogs have G-Day. A game time or television network has not yet been announced.