The Florida Gators gave a warm home welcome to new coach Dan Mullen in his return to Gainesville in a 53-6 win over visiting Charleston Southern on Saturday.
Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks passed for five touchdowns in just one half of play as Florida overwhelmed the Buccaneers, an FCS school in the Big South Conference.
Florida’s win was its 29th consecutive in a home opener, the nation’s longest active streak. The Gators’ last loss to start the home schedule was to Ole Miss in 1989.
The Gators (1-0) finished 4-7 last season, leading to the firing of coach Jim McElwain. Florida then sought Mullen — a former Gators assistant — and hired him away from Mississippi State in November after nine years with the Bulldogs.
Mullen previously coached at Florida under former head coach Urban Meyer from 2005-08.
Against the Buccaneers (0-1), Florida debuted a pass-oriented offense, scoring on the first series when Ohio State transfer Trevon Grimes took a quick throw from Franks 34 yards for a 7-0 lead.
Evan McPherson booted a 21-yard field goal to cap a 64-yard drive on Florida’s next series.
Franks fired a pair of 6-yard touchdowns early in the second quarter — on a slant to Ole Miss transfer Van Jefferson at 13:19 and a fade to Josh Hammond at 9:51 to make it 24-0.
The sophomore QB tossed his next touchdown on a 3-yard jump pass to Tyrie Cleveland, then added his fifth scoring pass on another 3-yard strike to Jefferson to end the half’s scoring at 38-0.
Making his ninth career start, Franks completed 16 of 24 passes for 219 yards. Backup Kyle Trask replaced him to start the third quarter.
The last Florida quarterback with five touchdown passes was Chris Leak in 2004.
McPherson’s second field goal, from 31 yards, increased the lead to 41-0 early in the third quarter, and Trask added a 12-yard scoring run on the ensuing series.
Backup kicker Jorge Powell added a 39-yard field goal to give Florida at 51-0 lead entering the final quarter.
Terrence Wilson’s 22-yard run broke up the shutout, but Florida’s Austin Perry returned a blocked PAT for two points.
Charleston Southern fell to 0-21 against FBS opponents and 0-7 versus the Southeastern Conference.
—Field Level Media