More snaps, more production for Noah Fant

In the second half of Iowa's loss to Northwestern, Noah Fant had just nine snaps. In the first half of Iowa's 63-0 win over Illinois, he had 28.


Nick Rohlman

Iowa tight end Noah Fant celebrates scoring a touchdown during Iowa's game against Illinois at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois, on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini 63-0.

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -Noah Fant was non-existent in Northwestern’s division-clinching 14-10 win over Iowa on Nov. 10. In a one-score game, Fant played just nine snaps in the second half.

Through the entire game, he was targeted just three times, catching just a single pass for no gain.

Fans harped on head coach Kirk Ferentz, criticizing his decision to play Fant for nine of Iowa’s 26 second-half snaps in the loss.

In the first half against Illinois on Saturday, though, Fant saw the field 28 times, tripling his second-half snap count against Northwestern (and then some).

In total, Fant had 38 snaps in the Hawkeyes’ 63-0 win over Illinois – 20 pass plays, 17 runs, and 1 snap on a punt.

“I was in there a little more during practice and stuff [this wee], so I had a feeling that I would be in there a little more,” he said.

In the first quarter, Fant scored his first touchdown in more than a month.

The junior ran a drag route a few yards beyond the line of scrimmage, and T.J. Hockenson and Nick Easley ran routes above his pattern and in the opposite direction, thus creating prime separation for Fant, who found the end zone for the 9-yard score.

“It felt good,” Fant said. “Long-needed – that’s how it felt.”

He almost broke another catch for six later in the game.

Fant ran a route down the sidelines, and, with a step on his defender, he hauled in a 37-yard grab along the sidelines, barely being knocked out by one remaining Illini defender.

Illinois’ man-to-man coverage played a critical role in how Iowa’s offensive attack played out, and it gave the Hawkeyes plenty of opportunities to utilize Fant.

“A lot of man coverage today, a lot of zone a week ago,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “A lot of that stuff is just how things shake out, but again, we’re going to be a better team any time we get our better guys involved.”

There was plenty of conversation surrounding getting Fant on the field, regardless of if he was getting the ball.

The 6-foot-5, 241-pound tight end commands attention in the secondary, whether or not the ball is being thrown his way.

The Illini demonstrated just that, as on both of fellow tight end T.J. Hockenson’s two first-half touchdowns, Fant was on the field, holding much of Illinois’ focus.

“It’s always nice having him out there,” Hockenson said. “We feed off of each other.”

Fant did his fair share of work in run support as well.

Two plays before Fant’s touchdown, Hawkeye running back Toren Young sprinted through a wide-open hole for a 17-yard gain, setting up the Hawkeyes for their initial score.

“I don’t know if there were any major conversations, but we’re a better team, obviously, when our tight ends are involved,” Ferentz said. “[Fant] had a good week. The plan worked out well today and it was good to see him involved and helping our team move the ball. It was a really productive day for him.”

Facebook Comments