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Golden Nuggets: Giorgio Tavecchio Wraps up His Cal Career with a Stellar Season

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After a tumultuous year in 2010, Giorgio Tavecchio was arguably the conference's best kicker in 2011. He led the conference in both field goal percentage and field goals made (a first for a Cal player).

If you ask him how it feels to achieve such a one-year turnaround, Tavecchio will tell you that his motivation is not about his own personal success nearly as much as he does it for his teammates and coaches who supported him through the good times and the bad times.

"The biggest reward is seeing my smiling teammates," Tavecchio said. "That's the joy in it for me, to see my teammates happy. As much as it's an individual aspect of the game, I feel indebted to my teammates for being there with me through the successes and the hard times. The personal accolades are great and I'm proud of how I've executed, but when I see my smiling teammates and I know that I contributed to the team victory, that is worth much more than any personal accolade."

Missing what could have been the game-winning field goal last year against Oregon was a low point for Tavecchio, but he has bounced back thanks to support and motivation from his teammates and coaches.

"In my mind it's completely in the past," Tavecchio said. "In the offseason, I used that a lot as motivation. I learned a lot from that experience. Off the field, with being shaken to the core, I got a lot of flak for that, and that's alright, everybody has their own opinions and I didn't do my job. Those who stuck with me through that time of trial were my family, my teammates and the coaches. Those are the people I hold really dear to me. The worst thing you can do is sit there and sulk. You have to continue moving on. As a kicker, you have to have a short-term memory. I felt really supported by everyone in this organization. That support was critical for me to continue improving. The lessons I learned from that night were vital to me off the field."

Tavecchio credits absolute mental focus to his success this season. More than perfecting the physical craft of kicking, his goal was to block out everything going on around him every single time he steps on the field. He kicks every kick the same way regardless of the situation.

After the jump Cal routs UCSB despite Jorge's absence and Spencer Ladner gets suspended for the Holiday Bowl.