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Mike Griffith / DawgNation
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart joined SEC Network host Paul Finebaum live from the set in Destin, Fla., on May 29, 2019.

Georgia football coach Kirby Smart: ‘We have missing pieces’

DESTIN, Fla. — Georgia coach Kirby Smart is confident in his football team, but he’s also a realist.

“We have missing pieces,” Smart said Wednesday at the SEC Spring Meetings at the Hilton Beach Golf Resort & Spa. “We have some units, defensive line and receivers, I’ve talked candidly about, getting some depth, getting some guys that can help us win.”

The Bulldogs are universally projected among the top five teams in the nation for the upcoming season. This, despite losing four of their top five pass catchers from a season ago, in addition to defensive end and team captain Jonathan Ledbetter and sacks leader D’Andre Walker.

RELATED: Kirby Smart has answer for naysayers

“We’re a couple of injuries away from the danger zone,” Smart told Paul Finebaum on the SEC Network. “In years past, we weren’t at that point at some positions, (while) we’re stronger at other positions.

“So there are concerns, but we’ve got the ball headed in the right direction.”

Smart, entering his fourth year as Georgia’s head coach, said ultimately it comes down to how his players handle the offseason.

“How we’ll play and how this team will perform together is going to be decided this summer,” Smart said. “A lot of that identity, I won’t even know until fall camp, because you have grad transfers and everybody coming together, and that’s what I love about this job.

“I’m going to find out every day one more thing about this new team.”

Two of the graduate transfers expected to provided an immediate boost arrived on the UGA campus on Tuesday, receiver Lawrence Cager (Miami) and tight end Eli Wolf (Tennessee).

As much as Smart is focused on improving the units that are lacking, he’s encouraged by the Bulldogs’ team strengths.

Smart has high expectations for Heisman Trophy candidate Jake Fromm.

“We have a quarterback coming back who should be a three-year starter,” Smart said. “Number one, that’s the first indicator of success, when you have someone that can lead your offense and put you in the right play and make good decisions.”

Indeed, the type of decisions that have many believing the Bulldogs will be back in the SEC Championship Game for a third consecutive season and in contention for the College Football Playoff.

“That’s where Georgia belongs, we want to continue to be in that conversation, and it excites me about this team we have coming back,” Smart said. “Ultimately, it’s going to boil down to what they choose to do this summer, and how they choose to take on leadership roles.”

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