Many of our favorite Razorback memories involve Ken Hatfield’s wonderful back-to-back Cotton Bowl teams of the late 1980s. Therefore, it was a real thrill to get the chance to speak last week with James Rouse, who teamed with with fellow running back Barry Foster to give those Hogs a mighty one-two punch in the backfield. Click here to read part one of our Q&A. In today’s second and final installment, Rouse discusses the best players he played with in Fayetteville, where he ranks on the all-time list of Razorback running backs and his frustrations with Ken Hatfield’s offense.
Who was the most talented player you ever played with at Arkansas?
We had so many talented players. From Freddie Childress to Wayne Martin to Steve Atwater. Those are some of the big-name guys that people recognize.
Steve Atwater was probably the most talented just because of his size and his ability. He went on of course to play in the pros and played several years and made several Pro Bowls. Out of that whole group that I played with, he probably had the best career at the next level out of all of us.
Arkansas has a long tradition of great running backs. Where do you think you rank among this group? Feel free to cast modesty aside, if need be.
That is a tough question to answer. When I talk to people and people remember me from my playing days, the comments are “I thought you were one of the best running backs that we ever had at the UA, particularly with the offense that you ran.”
As opposed to Darren McFadden, Madre Hill, Cedric Cobbs – those guys were feature backs. Considering that I wasn’t one of the feature backs and had to share the ball with three other guys, most people put me in the top three to top five running backs that have played at the U of A.
I think that’s quite an accomplishment, especially with the offense that we ran. I came from a traditional I-back formation in high school into to a flexbone/wishbone offense, which negated a lot of my touches. Coming from having the ball 20 to 25 times a game and then coming to college and carrying it maybe 12 to 15 times a game, I think I was still successful.
Personally, I really don’t harp on that. I was the first back in a while that gained a 1,000 yards in a season. It had been a long time since anyone had done it and then maybe five, six, seven years after that someone came through and did the same thing. [Editor’s note: Rouse gained 1,004 yards in 1987. Before that, Ben Cowins in 1978 was the last Hog running back to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. In 1995, Madre Hill become the next to do so.]
Not bragging or boasting, but I think that speaks volumes for my play and also for my abilities. Also, I had a great team that opened up the holes and was able to help me achieve those goals.
Did you ever feel any frustration with the offense?