Friendly Competition for OT Spots

The awkwardness of a position battle hasn't changed the relationship of the offensive tackles off the field. With Xavier Nixon having the left tackle spot locked down, Chaz Green and Matt Patchan continue to battle for right tackle. Green doesn't think it has changed their friendship off the field, and they use it to make each other better.

"We're real tight and close," Chaz Green said. "It's a competitive situation, but me, (Xavier Nixon) and (Matt) Patchan help each other out all the time. It's a good situation."

The battle started in the spring, but Green was the only healthy offensive tackle to fight for the job as Patchan and Nixon were both battling injuries. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said that Green was lost on the depth chart to start the spring, and he didn't make much of a move during it.

When Nixon and Patchan came back, the competition got more intense. Weis thinks that's when Green took the next step.

It went all the way until practice during game week, and offensive line coach Frank Verducci told Green he would be the starter on Friday.

"It's good competition," Green said. "It keeps us right in practice every week. It's also a good thing because we have three tackles that can rotate on both sides. It's good to keep the defense guessing since they aren't going against the same guy every time."

Green brings versatility that helps the line. While Nixon plays right tackle and Patchan plays left, Green has the ability to play both positions without losing any production.

"It's different techniques because it's different sides of the ball," Green said. "I'm comfortable with both though."

Running out of the tunnel to start the 2010 season didn't mean much to Green. He was buried on the depth chart full of veteran offensive linemen. He didn't expect to see the field much.

Running out on Saturday to open 2011 against Florida Atlantic felt different. That's the reason he came to Florida, and the opening game signaled the start of his career on the field for the Gators.

"I wasn't real nervous because I was prepared," Green said. "I know after that first play that I would be alright. I knew I was going to play, but it was good to get the start. (Coach Verducci) felt like it was best for me to start, so it's whatever coach said."

With the offensive line set from last Saturday, head coach Will Muschamp said he expects to keep the same group together to let them build continuity together. After going through camp and filtering new players in and out of the first team, that's a welcomed idea for the first team linemen.

"We practiced in camp a lot rotating guys in, so we're used to switching guys in," Green said. "I think we're ready for it."

Green is just happy to be on the field this season. The redshirt last season was tough, but he learned a lot.

"It was frustrating at times," Green said. "At first I was frustrated, but then I just matured and I knew I wasn't ready. It was good to work behind guys like (Marcus) Gilbert and them to get some reps with the twos."

As UAB comes to Gainesville this weekend, the Florida players know it'll likely take a more open playbook to earn the win. Chris Rainey estimated that they only used six plays in the win over FAU last week, and there is still plenty left in the playbook that the opponents haven't seen.

"We've still a got a whole lot that we didn't show," Green said. "We've got new stuff coming in all the time. It can be different next week, so we just never know."

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