Fresno State

Injuries still plaguing Fresno State

As soon as the Fresno State training room opened at noon Sunday, running back Ryan Mathews was walking through the door and ready for treatment on his sprained ankle.

Mathews said he was encouraged that the swelling had gone down and he could apply pressure on the ankle after suffering the injury in the second quarter of Fresno State's 38-27 victory over Utah State on Saturday.

But Mathews did not practice in Sunday's light workout and he seemed unsure he could play this weekend when Fresno State (6-3, 5-1) plays at No. 14 Hawaii (8-0, 5-0).

"I'm hoping to play, but right now, it's a big question mark," Mathews said. "I just need to get healthy. It just depends how much I'm in the training room instead of practice.

"There's still a little pain. It's kind of depressing. But I've got to get through this strong and with my head up. It should be fine. I just want to help my teammates."

As the Bulldogs' injury woes would have it, one player down apparently is never enough.

Tight end Bear Pascoe is banged up with an undisclosed injury and is considered day to day, Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. It is unclear when Pascoe got injured Saturday.

If Mathews and Pascoe do not play, the Bulldogs would be without both their top rusher and top receiving target. Mathews leads the Bulldogs with 120 carries for 751 yards and 12 touchdowns. He's averaging 83.4 yards per game.

Pascoe has team-highs of 37 catches and 462 yards, with four receiving touchdowns. Senior Jesus Tapia is listed second on the depth chart at tight end. He has two catches for 14 yards.

Fresno State already has had 12 starters miss at least one game for various reasons. The Bulldogs lost seven players, six of whom are starters, to season-ending injuries. Two others, who would have logged significant minutes, received season-long suspensions.

"It's been a year full of changes," Hill said, "and changes to the moving parts in this machine."

As far as some encouraging news for the Bulldogs, starting running back Lonyae Miller ran during Sunday's practice. The sophomore missed the past two games with a bruised quadriceps muscle.

Miller ranks second on the team with an average of 57.4 yards per game. He has 93 carries for 402 yards and six touchdowns, and typically would be used to soften defenses with his aggressive style.

If Miller remains out, senior running back Clifton Smith would assume responsibility as the primary ball carrier.

Smith had career-highs with 27 carries for 126 yards against Utah State. But durability and the ability to take constant blows always have been question marks for the 5-foot-8, 190-pound Smith.

"If he has to (be the primary ball carrier) this game, he proved Saturday that he could," Hill said. "The thing is, if he takes over that role, we're missing another guy back there. It's a lot better when he and another running back are in the game at the same time."