WHAT HAPPENED: Sophomore Feleipe Franks ushered in the Dan Mullen era by firing a career-high five touchdown passes, all in the first half, and the Florida Gators found next to no resistance in destroying FCS opponent Charleston Southern in the 2018 season opener for both teams Saturday night at Spurrier/Florida Field. Franks, who won a QB battle with fellow third-year sophomore Kyle Trask and true freshman Emory Jones in the preseason, tossed touchdowns of 34, 6, 6, 3 and 3 yards, including a combined three to transfer wide receivers Trevon Grimes and Van Jefferson, while true freshman Evan McPherson hit his first career field goal to open a 38-0 halftime lead. The UF defense, meanwhile, did not allow CSU to get a first down until Buccaneers tailback Ronnie Harris took off on 70-yard run on the team's seventh possession to the UF 8 with 36 seconds to go in the half. The Florida defense, though, forced CSU to settle for a field-goal attempt, but redshirt freshman Zack Carter blocked Tyler Tekac's 22-yard field goal attempt as time expired. The Buccaneers, trailing 51-0, eventually avoided the shutout when Terrell Wilson scored on a 22-yard run early in the fourth quarter, but Jeremiah Moon blocked the extra point and redshirt freshman Austin Perry picked up the ball and went the distance for a two-point conversion. Franks, making his ninth career start, finished 16 of 24 for 219 yards, the five scores and did not have a turnover. The Gators cranked out 444 yards of total offense, including 193 on the ground by way of 11 different ball carriers, and did not turn the ball over. The UF defense limited the Buccaneers and their triple option to 225 total yards, only three through the air, and forced three turnovers.
WHAT IT MEANS: After years (and coaches) of offenses that gave fans in the "Swamp" very little to get excited about, Mullen put on a show the likes of which he demonstrated during his time at Mississippi State, and let it be known he plans to be aggressive and had no problem turning Franks loose. Now, for some context: Charleston Southern is not a very good team and was grossly overmatched in size, speed and athleticism. The game must have looked a lot like the two times the Buccaneers faced Power Five conference foes last year, in losing to Mississippi State and Indiana, by a combined 76-0. The case can be made, though, the Gators did what they were supposed to do against an inferior foe. Good start and certainly appreciated by the fans. Meanwhile, UF extended its active NCAA-best winning streak for home openers to 29 in a row. The next-longest runs belong to Oklahoma State and Wisconsin at 22 straight. UF's last lost at home on opening day was a 24-19 defeat to Ole Miss on Sept. 9, 1989.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Franks, obviously, but his crew of wide receivers probably had some folks buzzing, most notably transfers Van Jefferson, by way of Ole Miss, and sophomore Trevon Grimes, who came from Ohio State. Grimes scored the first touchdown under Mullen when he took a sideline quick-hitter from Franks, picked up an excellent block from tight end R.J. Raymond that took out two defenders, and zipped up the sidelines for a 34-yard score. Jefferson, a junior and former standout for the Rebels, grabbed four passes for 34 yards and touchdowns of 6 and 3 yards.
STAGGERING STATISTIC: Franks threw five touchdowns in the first half. The Gators, as a team, threw a combined 10 last season. Let that one sink in.
UP NEXT: Florida (1-0) dives into Southeastern Conference play with a home date against Kentucky (1-0). The Gators have defeated the Wildcats 31 consecutive times, the longest active winning streak one FBC team has over another, and the fourth-longest in NCAA history. UF's last loss to UK came in 1986. Kentucky opened its season Saturday by defeating Central Michigan 35-20 at home.