"I've been bullet free for (a while)," Matt Patchan said with a grin. "It has been a good run."
Most recently, it was a wrist injury for Patchan. It forced him to miss most of the 2010 season and all of spring practice in 2011. It was a slow recovery, but Patchan finally got healthy in time for fall practice.
"It's one of those things that I had to work through with rehab and everything," Patchan said. "It's feeling good. I've just been stretching and working it. Working out and taking care of yourself is like painting a masterpiece-- you never get done, you just take breaks."
The road back from the injury wasn't too tough for Patchan. The redshirt sophomore has become an expert at rehab through his career and lived in the training room at times. It's not ideal for any player, but Patchan has become used to having the mentality necessary to succeed despite a tough injury.
Once he got back on the practice field to start this fall, it wasn't as tough as he expected.
"It's like riding a bike," Patchan said. "The first day of pads, you get into it. You're never perfect with your technique, but it returns eventually. Some are slower than others, but you just have to keep working on it."
It hasn't been pretty for the offensive line this season. They've allowed 18 sacks in nine games this season, but that makes it sound a little better than it has been. The Gators allowed just two sacks in the first four games, meaning they have allowed 16 sacks in the last five games.
"I know I can get better," Patchan said. "The sacks I've given up have been technical sacks where I've failed on my technique. I just have to get better."
The penalties are showing signs of improving. After committing 14 penalties against Georgia, the Gators had just three against Vanderbilt. Two of those came from the offensive line, and Patchan still thinks that is room to grow.
"That gives us more room for improvement," Patchan said. "We can still improve on those two penalties. Collectively, the way coach wants us to practice is perfect and penalty free. That's what I want to do."
It hasn't been a pretty year on the offensive line, but Patchan is still high on offensive line coach Frank Verducci. His NFL experience brought instant credibility in the minds of the players, and he works well with offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.
"He's a great coach and he really knows technique," Patchan said. "It's good that he's an NFL guy because we get to learn that way. It's really impressive. He has been working with Weis for a while too, so he knows what Weis is trying to get done and the way Weis wants to approach the game."