Fresno State defensive tackle Nikko Motta called it the most taxing game of the season and coach Tim DeRuyter agreed.
The Bulldogs are as banged up as they've ever been in DeRuyter's tenure with a minimum of seven key players either playing despite an injury or sidelined following Saturday's 35-28 overtime win at San Diego State.
Top cornerback L.J. Jones showed up in crutches and will have an MRI today to determine if he suffered just a strain in his left knee or something more severe like a tear.
Safety Derron Smith, the Mountain West Preseason Defensive Player of the Year who injured an ankle Saturday at Qualcomm Stadium, was the last player to get to practice Monday as he limped down Bulldog Stadium's entrance ramp.
Running backs Marteze Waller and Josh Quezada have been playing through pain.
The entire starting defensive line — Tyeler Davison, Andy Jennings and Motta — are all dinged up to a degree, too.
"Football is a physical sport and we've reached that time of year when we have a bunch of guys banged up and bruised and we've lost a few others to injury, so we need other people to step up," Motta said. "That San Diego State game was physical. Those guys kept coming at us with a power running game.
"We got the win, thankfully. But man, that game took its toll. We just have to get our treatments and play through this."
DeRuyter said it was highly unlikely Jones will play Saturday when No. 16 Fresno State (7-0, 3-0) hosts Nevada (3-5, 2-3).
Jamal Ellis, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound redshirt freshman, is expected to start in Jones' place. Sophomore cornerback Shannon Edwards, who shifted to safety because of injuries earlier this year, will play both cornerback and safety out of a reserve role.
DeRuyter said he expected Smith to play against Nevada, as well as the rest of the roster.
"It's tough, but that's why you've got to do a good job developing your depth," DeRuyter said. "Both sides of the ball, that was the most physical game we've played all year. You've got to give San Diego State credit. They were playing hard, playing inspired football. It takes its toll.
"Hopefully, this creates opportunities for guys. Jamal has a chance to play a little bit more than he has this year. I anticipate him taking advantage of that. Shannon Edwards now will have to play both safety and corner. We'll just go from here."
Fresno State's secondary depth has been tested over and over this season. It started when cornerback Sean Alston, a starter last year, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the offseason.
Then about two weeks before the season opener, reserve safety Donnell Vercher quit the team for personal reasons. Late last month, reserve safety Rodney Matthews went down with a season-ending knee injury, which led to Edwards moving from cornerback to safety and slot receiver Dillon Root switching to cornerback.
"Last year we were fairly lucky with injuries," DeRuyter said. "We had (linebacker Patrick) Su'a and (defensive tackle) Anthony Williams go down. We haven't been as lucky with the injuries this year. We'll need some guys to step it up."
Fresno State is nearing a sellout with roughly 39,000 tickets sold for Saturday's Blackout game against Nevada.
The 16th-ranked Bulldogs (7-0) will debut their highly anticipated all-black uniforms for the game and fans also are encouraged to wear black to Bulldog Stadium.
Bulldog Stadium seats a maximum of 41,031, and Fresno State senior associate Athletics Director Paul Ladwig said the school does not plan to sell any standing-room-only tickets.
Last month, the Bulldogs had their first sellout in five years when Fresno State beat rival Boise State 41-40.
Should Fresno State sell out Saturday's game, it'll mark the first time since 2006 that the Bulldogs have had two or more sellouts in the same season.
The Bulldogs are 10-0 at home under DeRuyter.
Two Bulldogs honored
Outside linebacker Ejiro Ederaine and tight end Marcel Jensen were named conference players of the week for their contributions to the Bulldogs' victory at San Diego State.
It was the first MW weekly accolade for both Ederaine, who was named defensive player of the week, and Jensen, who was named special teams player of the week.
Ederaine recorded a career-high 10 tackles, including 4.5 for a loss and two sacks. His 4.5 tackles for a loss are the most in a single game in the nation this season. Ederaine also returned a fumble 78 yards for a touchdown — the longest fumble recovery for a score in school history.
Jensen made arguably the biggest play Saturday. With the score tied 28-28 and San Diego State attempting a 37-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining, Jensen blocked the kick to force overtime. It was Jensen's fourth blocked kick in his career.
Wyoming game set
Fresno State's game next week at Wyoming will be televised by ESPN2 and the kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.
Because the Nov. 9 game will air on ESPN2, Fresno State will earn $500,000 as part of the Mountain West's television contact with ESPN. The game at San Diego State also was on ESPN2 and earned the athletic department $500,000.
Fresno State and Wyoming will be meeting for the ninth time, with the all-time series tied 4-4. The Bulldogs have lost the previous three games in Laramie. Wyoming (4-4, 2-2) is on a bye this week.
No. 16 FRESNO STATE vs. NEVADA
Vitals: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Bulldog Stadium
Records: Bulldogs 7-0, 4-0 MWC; Wolf Pack 3-5, 2-3
Radio: KFIG (AM 940); KGST (AM 1600)
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