Position Spotlight – Left Tackle

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State will need to shore up the Offensive Line this year with position open at both guard spots and center. The Tackle positions however will be manned and starting at Left Tackle will be Manase Foketi. We take a look at Manase in this Position Spotlight.

Last year the K-State Offensive line was heavy on experience and depth and with a potent ground game, the need for better pass blocking was not a concern. With both tackle spots back this year, the ‘Cats will look to fill in the interior Offensive Line. In rebuilding, the ‘Cats will anchor line play around their mammoth left tackle, Manase Foketi.

Foketi was a JUCO transfer last year from Mt. San Antonio College, where he was named a 2009 Second Team All-Southern California Football Association offensive lineman. He came in and immediately earning the starting left tackle position, starting every game for KSU last year and helping the ‘Cats roll up an average of 200 yards per game on the ground. The Wildcat rushing attack was ranked 20th in the nation last year and if the offense is to be potent this year, the Offensive Line will be lead by Foketi from the ‘blindside' tackle position.

One thing Foketi is not is small; the man is an immovable object with a weight somewhere between 305 pounds all the way up 325 pounds depending on the time of the year. In playing condition, Foketi is in the 305-310 pound range and as a run blocker, his strength and frame in the trenches allows him to open big running lanes.

At 6-foot-5, Manase has the height that you want on a tackle and he is very nimble for his size which is how he earned the starting LT position. Speed rushers usually have to find leverage points to get around Manase due to his quick feet and his ability to slide out in pass coverage.

Manase makes a living on getting his hands on defensive linemen and then ‘locking' them up and moving them out of the pocket and away from his quarterback. Most film breakdowns show a solid wall that the ‘Bull Rush' technique proves ineffective against due to his strength and size and so opponents are forced to try and get around Manase.

Speed Rush
Foketi has such quick feet and sound technique that speed rushers usually find themselves up field quickly and out of the play. He slides quickly out of his stance, forces contact and engages the defensive ends and then uses his great arm length to force opponents to far up field and again out of the play. I have watched film over and over again and the theme that develops is less is more. Sure it is great to see Manase open up huge gaping holes on the left side of the line but for those who enjoy subtle nuances, watch how often Manase is able to quietly take defenders out of the play. He uses his leverage and long arm span to make contact lock up with one arm and direct with his other defenders where he wants to take them – usually away from the play.

Experience
Manase started every game last year and has the experience to lead what will be three new members on the offensive line. He knows Coach Snyder's system and the playbook and will be able to give whoever lines up at quarterback the time that is needed to make decisions and deliver the ball. Past that however is his ability at his size and quick feet to dismantle overloaded gaps at the point of contact and negate what a defense wants to do when bringing the blitz at times. He is able to square his shoulders and move down the line forcing defenders into one another and stopping the open gaps they attempt to create with overloaded zones.

Resume
Manase is the quarterback's protector, he protects that spot on the field where the QB is most vulnerable, flying blind and does not see defender coming from – his blindside. In a nutshell, he protects the quarterback from getting de-cleated and his head taken off from the defensive end or an over aggressive stunting linebacker.

At the point of contact he is explosive and uses his size to and leverage to manhandle defenders. If he gets his hands on you Manase simply ‘locks' up his man and either drives him backwards or guides the defensive lineman up field and out of the play.

Best Attribute
Watching the rushing attack last year, there were countless plays where Manase sealed off his man and opened up holes for Daniel Thomas to scamper through. His ability to seal off gave the ‘Cats the option of running to his side of the line and letting the running back select his hole. Foketi's best strength may be in his ability to seal that outside defensive end and allow outside runs/sweeps and pitches to develop.

Also, in watching plays where defenses attempted to stunt, Foketi was able to block down and then move on to the next level of the defense and continue down the field. If you want to find some of his plays, look away from the ball as he negates backside pursuit. Check him out at the point of contact when he fires off and watch as defenders move backwards and he blows up gaps. At his size he has great feet for a ‘Big Ugly' and he uses this to stay in position and move on pulling plays. He also moves well in space and quickly gets his body out in transition, often beating defenders to their spots. Very versatile left tackle that has the height, strength and feet to man the left tackle position.

Final Verdict?

Well to me the final verdict is Foketi will again be the starter without a doubt and will be opening holes, protecting the quarterback and anchoring this offensive line. Arguably he mans the most important spot on the offensive line. Some might argue that the Center has the toughest job in recognizing the defensive alignments and then calling the protections but to me the most important job after the ball is hiked is the Left Tackle position.

Manase will be counted on to provide leadership and experience on the line and has a great track record of staying healthy and giving quality snaps. Foketi is invaluable to the offensive line and could be one of the most underrated players on the team this year because he is so successful at making plays without much notice.

In Foketi , the Wildcat offense has a very potent run and pass blocker that is able to provide different offensive ability that helps the offense be successful. Coach Snyder knows he can overload his tight end to one side of the line instead of sometimes trying to double the outside rush because of Manase's ability to protect off the edge.

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