Foketi Returns to Shore Up Middle

With nose guard Russell Tialavea not practicing this week and possibly not playing against UNLV, the middle of the Cougar defense got a needed shot in the arm with the return of Mosese Foketi.

During the TCU game last week, undersized Ian Dulan had to make up for the absence of Moses Foketi, who was taking care of some academic issues while rehabbing a surgically repaired wrist.

"Right now I'm pretty good to go and the brace is also helping out," said Foketi. "I've been using my hands more. They still threw me in there after I broke my wrist because I was pretty fast in pursuing the quarterback from the middle. I didn't really use my hands as much, which is why I opted for surgery. Now I'm all healed up and good to go."

Watching his teammates practice and play from the sidelines was a struggle for Foketi. While in Fort Worth he felt helpless, as there was nothing he could do to help his teammates.

"Yeah, it was really tough, especially with this being my senior year, and there was nothing I could to do help my team go to battle out there on the field," said Foketi. "Even though Russell [Tialavea] can handle himself out there because he's an all-star, he needed some help. Coach Kaufusi has always told me that they need a rotation out there with me to help out the defense.

"It was really hard because I felt like I was letting my teammates down. They tried to put Ian in there, but Ian isn't really a nose guard, and there were a bunch of holes in the middle that would open up. Even though Russell played really well, I knew he needed a rest out there from time to time, and there was nothing I could do to help him. If I had been able to play during the TCU game in a rotation it would have been much better."

Now that Foketi has returned, Coach Kaufusi will have more options across his defensive line should Tialavea indeed miss the UNLV game.

"Realistically, Russell is a true nose guard, where I'm more of a defensive tackle because of my size," said Foketi. "I can play nose, but I'm a better pass rusher from the outside. If me and Russell are able to rotate, it confuses the center in what to look for. Russell is more power even though he's quick, which helps set me with my moves to get to the quarterback more easily. It's a good combination and we complement each other because we play differently and it causes problems for centers. We're able to set each other up."

Following the loss to TCU, there has been a different disposition among these Cougar defenders. UNLV may be catching BYU at the wrong time, and many want to prove it on the field this Saturday.

"[UNLV] better expect a lot of stuff, because I'm mad right now," Foketi said. "I really found out how much football means to me when I wasn't there, and with the loss to TCU and not being able to contribute and work hard with my team has re-awoken me and the rest of my teammates. I'm going to go out there and give it my all to make my team happy and me happy as well."

Following the loss to TCU, there has been a common demeanor of anger expressed by many Cougars during this week of practice. Emotion was something lacking going into the TCU game, but Cougar fans might see plenty of it against the Rebels of UNLV at LaVell Edwards Stadium.

"Everybody was really mad and yet kind of sad too with how, by losing one game, we are no longer in contention for a BCS game," said Foketi. "Who would have thought that by losing one game we could possibly have lost the conference championship too? Right now everybody is hungry and looking to kill someone because of those things, and I like it. It's given us that fire and competitive nature back, where we have to fight for something. It's given us that competitive edge again. This will be good for us."

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