We’ve known for a long time this was coming, but it’s official now — offensive tackle Matt Patchan is out for the season. That was finally confirmed Wednesday when Urban Meyer announced that Patchan recently underwent surgery on the wrist that he fractured back in August.
The Gators had been holding out hope for much of the season that Patchan could return at some point in 2010, but it’s not going to happen.
“It was an injury that just would never improve,” Meyer said. “We feel confident and so does Matt, and his family, that he should be ready to crank it up real close to full-contact in the spring. We need him.”
They really needed him this season. Of all the things that have happened with the Florida offense this season, the absence of Patchan has made one of the biggest impacts. The Gators not only missed his passion and his relentless and physical style, but with him out, UF’s depth at offensive tackle pretty much disappeared. It forced the Gators to play a guard (senior Maurice Hurt) at tackle for a big part of the season. Hurt is a very good offensive lineman and is pretty quick on his feet for a big guy, but he is not a natural tackle.
The Gators really need Patchan back and ready to play next season. If he can finally shake off his bad injury luck, Patchan will be the starting left tackle in 2011. The right tackle would be a bigger and stronger Xavier Nixon, who also has battled injuries in his true sophomore season. With those two in the lineup, the Gators would have impressive bookend tackles — and the line would have a chance to be better than it was this season, even with three starters (Mike Pouncey, Marcus Gilbert and Carl Johnson) leaving.
The offensive line was supposed to be the team’s strength in 2010. It was not. Things might have been much different if Matt Patchan had been healthy and playing from the start.