By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Despite catching just one pass for zero yards, Noah Fant was the hot topic after the Iowa football team’s 14-10 loss to Northwestern on Saturday.
And that’s because the junior tight end caught only one pass.
The 6-foot-5, 241-pound Fant had trouble coming up with an explanation for his lack of usage after the game.
“I’m not sure,” Fant said. “Our coaches decided to get some other guys the ball. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong. I’m not really sure. It would be a better question for the coaching staff. It’s kind of one of those things where I go out there when I’m told to and try to catch everything that comes to me and I tried to do that today.”
Fant came into the game leading the team with 34 receptions and six touchdowns. He also has 18 touchdowns since the beginning of the 2017 season.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz indicated that it’s not necessarily anything that Fant is doing right or wrong, it’s just the way the game unfolds.
“Well, I think we try to feature out guys that are doing the best,” Ferentz said. “Whether it be T.J. (Hockenson), Noah, our receivers. No, I mean we’re calling the game as we call the game and practice the situations we’re practicing.”
Fant denied that there’s any frustration with regard to his role on the team, but rather when it comes to wins and losses.
“It would be nice to say, you know, I want the ball more and things like that,” Fant said. “But I try to be a team player.
“We win as a team, we lose as a team and that’s ultimately the decision of our coaching staff and, I guess, overall it would be a good question to ask them and like I was saying before I just go out there and do what I can and do what I’m told to do.”
Fant's usage in Iowa's sputtering offense was already a point of contention among the fanbase on social media, but perhaps the most vocal critic of Fant’s usage has been his brother Chris Fant.
Chris Fant took the Twitter after Iowa’s win over Minnesota to express his displeasure with the amount of touches his brother was getting after Noah Fant had just 27 yards on four catches and a touchdown against Minnesota.
Chris Fant took to Twitter again on Saturday to reiterate his point and Noah Fant addressed it after the game.
“I mean that’s his opinion,” Noah Fant said. “Kind of like we touched on before I will always have my brother’s back, I’ll always 100 percent be behind my family but our coaching staff is a pretty good coaching staff and they know what they’re doing.
“They’ve have quite a few different tight ends come through here and have used them well so it’s just an overall belief in the system and overall I know there’s a plan and that it’ll all play itself out.”
Injury report: Sophomore receiver Brandon Smith did not play in Saturday's game due to an injury. Ferentz said he thinks Smith could be ready to play against Illinois next Saturday.
Smith has 20 receptions for 253 yards and one touchdown this season.
Sophomore defensive back Matt Hankins returned to the lineup on Saturday after missing the last five games due a hand injury. Senior fullback Brady Ross also missed the game due to injury.
Stanley moving up: Stanley threw one touchdown today. It was his 44th career touchdown pass, moving past Matt Sherman for fourth all-time in school history.
Don’t throw to Stone: Sophomore safety Geno Stone’s interception in the third quarter was his team-high fourth of the season.
Iowa has 12 interceptions since Stone entered the starting lineup week five. Iowa had just two interceptions in the first four games of the season.
Senior safety Jake Gervase also intercepted a pass in the third quarter, his third of the year. Iowa has 14 total interceptions this season.
Ihmir runs far: Sophomore receiver Ihmir-Smith Marsette had a career-high 198 all-purpose yards. He had 100 kick return yards, a career-high 90 yards receiving and eight yards rushing.
Smith-Marsette matched his career high with four receptions. His 28-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter was Iowa’s lone touchdown of the game.
“Coach Brian Ferentz dialed it up and we executed it,” Smith-Marsette said. “The line gave Nate a great pocket, I executed my route and Nate gave me a great ball in the back of the end zone.”
Tackle party: Gervase matched his career-high with 10 tackles.
Hankins, freshman linebacker Djimon Colbert and junior defensive lineman Cedrick Lattimore all matched their career bests with eight, seven and four tackles, respectively.
Sophmore defensive lineman Chauncey Golston set a career high with five tackles.