With first-year coach Mark Snyder’s focus on special teams, something, well, special was bound to happen this season.

For Chubb Small, that moment was about eight games in the making when it finally came last week.

Small’s 92-yard kickoff return to start the second half against Tulane last Saturday was Marshall’s first for a touchdown in six years. A true freshman, Small had been showing signs of breaking loose all year, so he wasn’t surprised when he finally did.

“I knew I would eventually get one,” Small said. “It was just one man (to beat) every time, and I just kept getting closer and closer. I finally came through for (the team).”

Small has embraced Snyder’s relentless commitment to special teams. That, and winning, is what helped get him to the end zone against the Green Wave in a game Marshall came back to win 27-26.

“I knew we needed it,” Small said. “I had confidence in my blockers and they came through for me.”

The 5-foot-9, 200-pound true freshman has played well while backing up starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw, but seems more at home in the return game.

“I know it’s a special part of the game,” Small said.

“Coach Snyder is stressing it as an important part of the game.

“Just being back there, knowing that everybody is watching and it’s you and your side of the team versus their side, you’ve just got to battle to get what you want.”

Marshall’s loss to Virginia Tech on Oct. 8 could be considered Small’s breakout game. He scored his first touchdown and drew rave reviews from Snyder.

“That game gave me more confidence because that was supposed to be a big team,” Small admits.

Marshall (4-4, 3-2 Conference USA) hosts Southern Miss (4-3, 3-1) at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The game can be seen on ESPN2.

The Herd will be looking to pick up ground on the Golden Eagles in the league’s East Division race.

“We’ve got to come out ready to play,” Small said. “I know we will. They are a good team and they focus on special teams like we do.

“I do know they are beatable.”

— E-mail:

gfauber@register-herald.com

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