Preseason camp notebook: A closer look at the specialists and BUBOs
OwlScoop.com is providing fans with a story after every preseason camp press conference highlighting updates from the team’s players and coaches to prepare fans for the start of Temple’s season on Sept. 2 when the Owls travel to Rutgers.
On Wednesday, outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator Brett Diersen, punter Adam Barry, kicker Rory Bell and BUBO Kwantel Raines spoke to the media after the practice.
Wednesday’s interviews, centered around Temple’s battle for the starting BUBO position and the team’s starting kicker position.
Diersen wouldn’t commit to anyone as the starter for either position but is happy with what he’s seen so far.
“We’ve been up and down a little bit,” Diersen said. “One day one guys shows up and the next day, another guy shows up. It’s been fun. It’s a young group and they are learning a lot and we’ve seen a lot at practice here.”
At BUBO, it appears that Raines is the current frontrunner to take the majority of the team’s reps. Raines transferred from West Virginia before the 2020 season but opted out due to concerns around COVID-19.
The BUBO position is a hybrid safety and linebacker spot which requires a player to have both coverage and run-fill responsibilities. Raines feels comfortable in that role because he played a lot of different roles for West Virginia’s defense.
“I moved around a lot whether it was [weakside linebacker] at times if that was called,” Raines said. “The field slot or [strongside linebacker] or free safety, I’ve pretty much played it all. I’ve always been versatile to play the BUBO.”
The Owls have some younger players competing with Raines, including Thomas Joe-Kamara, Muheem McCargo and true freshman D.J. Woodbury, who is listed on the team’s roster as a linebacker but is working with the BUBO’s during camp.
Joe-Kamara saw his first non-special team’s action last season against Tulane and set his career-high for tackles with two against UCF.
McCargo, a member of the 2020 recruiting class, played primarily on special teams last season and made his first career appearance against USF.
“[Joe-Kamara] has been doing a fine job,” Dierson said. “[Woodbury] has been doing a fine job and [McCargo]. I mean it’s a fun group, it really is. They are young. They are eager. They are learning every single day and they do a great job when they are locked in.”
Ultimately, the battle will come down to which player plays the most relentless and attacks their mistakes, Diersen added.
As for the kicker spot, Bell is the only returning player from last season. He started the season as the team’s kickoff specialist and then took over responsibilities for field goals and extra points against Tulane.
Bell’s longest field goal last season was 30 yards, but he’s said he’s consistently hit from beyond 50 yards this month in preseason camp.
“It was my first time ever kicking in a stadium, period,” Bell said. “I think now that coach has seen my range, we’ve hit from 50-plus in practice as a field goal unit, so I think now he’s seen that he’s not going to be afraid to try me a little further now.”
Bell’s competition is two walk-ons in Liam Hart, who attended Penn Manor High School in Lancaster, and Noah Botsford, who attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
At Monday’s press conferences, head coach Rod Carey said Botsford was the one pushing Bell for the starting spot.
Diersen gushed about Botsford when asked about him Wednesday.
“The thing about [Botsford] is, say [St. Thomas Aquinas High School] had eight to 10 specialists, and he kept beating them out,” Diersen said. “Also [Botsford] was playing at big-time stadiums, so when I found all that out and then met [Botsford], I was fired up.”
The Owls’ punter position appears to be more locked up with Barry as the team’s starter. Barry struggled in 2019 but bounced back in 2020 helping the Owls finish third in The American Athletic Conference.
Barry also tied the team’s all-time record for punts in a game with 11 against ECU.
“Honestly, I think my focus,” Barry said about what changed for him last season. “I don’t think I was really locked in. I was more worried about placement and stuff like that. I know what I’m capable of, so I just focused up and did what I know I can do.”