In 2017, the Gators needed eight quarters of action before scoring an offensive touchdown. In Saturday’s season opener against Charleston Southern, Florida needed just eight plays to record the season’s first touchdown, and the first touchdown of the head coach Dan Mullen era in Gainesville.
After the Gators received the opening kick-off at their own 25-yard-line, quarterback Feleipe Franks drove the offense down the field into Buccaneers territory, where he would find a wide-open Trevon Grimes on a wide receiver screen. Grimes would dash untouched 34 yards into the end zone for his first collegiate touchdown, where freshman kicker Evan McPherson would boot the extra point and cap the scoring drive.
Florida’s offense looked much improved on the night from the opening kick. Franks would toss five touchdown passes in the first half, as Florida took a commanding 38-0 lead into the break. In turn, Franks recorded the most touchdown passes in a game by a UF quarterback since Chris Leak had six against South Carolina in 2004. UF’s record for first-half touchdown passes is owned by Doug Johnson, who tossed seven against Central Michigan in 1997.
Gators suspend 7 prior to kickoff
Mullen said the team wouldn’t reveal any suspensions until just prior to UF’s season opener against Charleston Southern on Saturday night. With just over an hour until kickoff, the Gators took the field to stretch, and it became clear who would miss at least part of Saturday’s contest. Adarius Lemons, Kyree Campbell, Kadarius Toney, Cece Jefferson, Luke Ancrum, Brian Edwards and walk-on James Washington did not participate in team-organized activities prior to kickoff, and a source close to the program confirmed to The Gainesville Sun that the seven players would indeed miss the game due to suspension. It remains unclear the duration of each player’s suspension. Toney made several headlines throughout the offseason, including being reprimanded for brandishing an airsoft rifle on UF’s campus in May and driving with an authentic semi-automatic rifle less than two months later. Edwards was involved in the latter incident with Toney, while Jefferson’s suspension was related to an academic issue. Ancrum and Campbell were also involved in UFPD’s investigation related to the airsoft rifle. UF said the seven were punished for “not living up to the Gator standard.”
Cris Collinsworth Mr. Two Bits
Former Florida star Cris Collinsworth was named the first Mr. Two Bits of the Dan Mullen era, and he played the part with gusto. Collinsworth, who serves as a commentator for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” joined the likes of Steve Spurrier, Chris DiMarco, Danny Wuerffel and several more former Gators in playing the iconic role started by 96-year-old George Edmondson. UF began using celebrities in the Mr. Two Bits role in 2013.
On the second offensive play of the day, Feleipe Franks kept the ball on a designed quarterback run and slid across midfield for a first down. Yet Franks would appear to get hit hard and high on the play by Buccaneers linebacker Edward King, drawing an immediate response from the home crowd. The officiating crew reviewed the play and confirmed King had committed targeting, resulting in his ejection.
Position battles clearing up
Prior to the season opener, Mullen stressed the need to establish a pecking order at several key positions during Florida’s eventual victory over Charleston Southern, and early drives seemed to reveal the current pecking order.
Freshman Evan McPherson handled kick-off and field goal duties for Florida, where he would record his first collegiate field goal with 8:10 to play in the first quarter. Prior to putting Florida up 10-0, McPherson would add an extra point following Grimes’ 34-yard touchdown. And at center, Nick Buchanan handled the majority of snaps during the first half after impressing the coaching staff with his development throughout Spring and Fall camp.