FILE - In this April 14, 2018, file photo, Florida head coach Dan Mullen watches play on the field during an NCAA spring college football intrasquad game, in Gainesville, Fla. Florida turned to its past to find a new head coach during the offseason, hiring Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen. The 45-year-old Mullen was the offensive coordinator at Florida when Tim Tebow was quarterback and helped the Gators win national titles in 2006 and 2008. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Gators Football Preview: The Start of the Mullen Era in Florida

Queue the next chapter in Gators football history.

Coincidentally, head coach Dan Mullen will begin his tenure at Florida on Saturday night the same way he opened last season while at Mississippi State.

Charleston Southern University visit the swamp, as the game is set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

Franks Under Center

Most of the Gators’ preseason chatter has revolved around the quarterback battle between Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask at the position.

But as most expected, it’s the returning redshirt sophomore that will retain his starting spot for the season opener.

Franks was definitely under added pressure this offseason, but it’s his regular season consistency that will determine if he gets the nod every week going forward.

Mullen said that the decision to start Franks was made solely because he, and his coaching stuff, thought that Franks gives Florida a better chance to win now.

Arguably one of Mullen’s toughest tasks will be to kick start the Gators’ offense that finished dead last in the SEC for total passing in 2017.

Franks sported a relatively poor completion percentage last season, 54.6, but he wasn’t helped at all by the Gators’ rushing attack either.

Finding the right balance between Franks and his backfield will be important this season.

Running back Jordan Scarlett has the build to be the leading back in this offense. They have the depth at the skill positions to improve under a more structured and balanced offense.

It’ll also be interesting to see how Mullen’s playbook will look in the opener.

Regardless, it’s now up to Franks to make the necessary strides as a passer. He hasn’t seem to let any off-field distractions impact his mindset.

Unique Test for the Defense

Mullen’s Mississippi State team took care of Charleston Southern last season in that opener 49-0. He and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will surely be looking for a similarly resounding performance from his defense this time around.

Florida will have to contain a triple-option system that head coach Mark Tucker employs.

Mullen also said that he expects the Buccaneers to get a slight advantage from having seen his schemes last season.

The Buccaneers run their option mostly from the shotgun, and quarterback London Johnson can also beat defenses with his speed on the outside.

It’ll be an interesting test for the new-look defensive front of the Gators. Most expect the unit to improve from last season. Week 1 will already be a different challenge for outside rushers like Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and tackle Jabari Zuniga.

The Bottom Line

Saturday represents an opportunity for Mullen to get his tenure at Florida rolling. It’s the coaching chance he’s waited to seize, and his players have sounded confident about the changes he’s implemented.

Mullen will wan’t to hit the ground running against a familiar foe in order to breathe some energy into the Gators’ football program.

About Edgar Chavero

Sports media and management student at the University of Florida. Content creator for ESPN 98.1 FM/ 850 AM WRUF.

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