BERKELEY -- With a quarterback rating of 514 and – oh, by the way – a career-high 18 points and a career-high three field goals (from 28, 38 and 37 yards), California senior kicker Vincenzo D'Amato took home the Pac-12's first Special Teams Player of the Week award on Monday, largely fueled by his fake-field goal touchdown pass to Jackson Bouza to kick off the scoring against No. 22 Northwestern on Saturday.
"I am definitely excited and honored to receive this award," D'Amato said. "I am thankful for having a great holder, snapper and teammates that support and help me. The only thing I really remember about the touchdown pass is seeing Bouza in between two big Northwestern players. All I could thing about was here we go!"
D'Amato and punter Cole Leininger -- who boomed six punts an average of 43.5 yards, topping out at 70, with three inside the 20-yard line – both got the day off on Monday to rest their legs, but head coach Sonny Dykes offered his thoughts on the honor.
"I thought he kicked the ball well, [but] was disappointed in the two kickoffs he kicked out of bounds," Dykes said. "He had a technical flaw that I think he'll get fixed, but I thought he was very consistent and that was big for him to throw that touchdown pass early in the game. That gave us momentum."
In other news from the conference, Bears defensive end Chris McCain had his suspension overturned, and will be available for the entirety of Saturday's tilt against Portland State.
Dykes shared a quiet moment with McCain early in practice, ending the conversation with a reassuring pat on the helmet.
"Really, just before we came out on the practice field, I got a call from the Pac-12 office, and they kind of told me what was going on," Dykes said. "Kudos to those guys for recognizing that it was a mistake and correcting it. I think – it's what I told them – there are a lot of conference offices that wouldn't have had the guts to do what they did, and so I applaud the Pac-12 for doing what they did."
[READ MORE: McCain Reinstated]
McCain – who was ejected early in the fourth quarter for allegedly targeting he head of Wildcats quarterback Trevor Siemian -- was relieved that the suspension was overturned.
"I was excited," McCain said. "I thought it would happen, so I was expecting for it to happen. A lot of people were expecting it to go the right way. I talked to some coaches before then, and they told me what the deal was. I was suspended for the moment, and they told me that I just had to deal with it and take it like a man. There really wasn't much I could do after that. If they were going to overturn it, they were going to overturn it, which they did. I'm excited right now about it."
D'Amato Awarded, McCain Reinstated
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