You might try cutting slits in your manifold instead of drilling holes. Cut the slits about a third of the way through your manifold on either the top or bottom. I have mine facing down (facing the cooler floor). Make sure you cut the slits thin so grain husk cannot easily pass through. Just cut a lot of them to get good flow. Search here on hombrewtalk for some nice manifold designs to reference. I used a hacksaw to cut mine. It was a little time consuming but works very well for me. Also, I was cutting copper. Also, add your mash water first, this is very important. Then you can slowly add your grain while stirring to prevent clumping up and creating dough balls. Stir constantly and thoroughly. If you want extra reassurance, add some rice hulls to your mash which will help prevent clumping and aid in lautering. I soak my rice hulls in hot water before I add to my mash so they don't absorb wort. If you follow these steps, you should have great success.