IOWA CITY — Noah Fant was on the field Saturday for the Iowa football team, even if the preseason all-American wasn’t anywhere to be found when there were plays to be made in the Hawkeyes’ 14-10 loss to Northwestern.
Fant didn’t gain a single yard on his only reception of the game at Kinnick Stadium, targeted just twice by quarterback Nate Stanley on a day when the Iowa offense struggled to move the chains against an effective Wildcats’ defense.
"I don’t get a say on when I’m out there and when I’m not. That’s the coaches’ job," Fant said. "That is their decision, and I respect that. All I can do is go in and try to make the plays when I have a chance to make them."
The junior entered the game with a team-leading 34 receptions but was passed on the season charts by both Nick Easley and T.J. Hockenson on Saturday as they combined for 15 catches as Stanley connected with seven receivers in Iowa’s third straight loss.
Easley finished with eight receptions and Hockenson collected seven.
With Brandon Smith out Saturday with an injury, Fant lined up more frequently in the slot but was only targeted four times on a day when Stanley completed 27-of-41 passes.
Coach Kirk Ferentz said Iowa found itself in 11 personnel situations frequently against the Northwestern defense, an alignment which includes only one tight end.
"We’ve got two pretty good tight ends, so T.J. would have been the guy of choice at that point," Ferentz said.
Pressed for why Fant was used more frequently, Ferentz said it boiled down to production.
"I think we try to feature our guys that are doing the best, whether it’s T.J., Noah, our receivers," Ferentz said. "I mean, we’re calling the game as we call the game and practice the situations we’re practicing."
Fant said there are times when defenses are more than aware of where he is at on the field.
"There are times when I’ll see things shift over to me, and when that happens, that’s when the ball should go to other guys," Fant said. "When I’m getting doubled up, it only makes sense for the ball to go to someone else."
Fant said his primary frustration is the frustration he shares with his teammates.
"The close losses, they hurt everybody, and we’ve had four of them," Fant said. "I’m like anyone else. I want to do what I can to help turn that around. We all want to win. That’s the main thing."
Northwestern's defense had a say in that.
Fant said the Wildcats didn't leave Stanley with much room to work.
"We're not finding the holes the way we were earlier, and a lot of that has been the defenses we've seen," Fant said. "We need to do a better job with that and we'll get there."
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