That year Saxton gained 271 yards in 55 carries, an average of 4.9. He threw four passes and completed them all; he punted 12 times for a 43-yard average. "He can still kick a football farther than anyone on the team," says Royal, "but you never know. It might go back over his head." On the Friday before the Oklahoma game Saxton leaned over to tie a shoelace. He couldn't straighten up.
"We took him to the hospital," says Royal, "and the next day he tore Oklahoma apart. You should see the films of that game. 'This is your life, James Saxton.' "
Saxton made a play that year that he still considers the best of his career. It was on defense.
"I was playing safety against SMU and Henry Christopher came down on a look-in pattern. Don Meredith threw him a pass. I hit him and knocked him loose from the football." Saxton also knocked Christopher loose from two teeth; he was sorry about that and told Christopher so later. Still, Saxton thinks that it was a good play. "Coach has a saying on pass defense: 'Take pride in your zone; man it with authority.' I figured I had."
Last year Royal moved Saxton to halfback. He was injured against Nebraska (shoulder), Arkansas (hip) and Rice (chest) and these three games Texas lost. But in between he pulled the team out of tough situations no less than eight times and learned to run in a straight line, a completely foreign maneuver that Royal had been trying to teach him for two years. He took a punt back 60 yards against Maryland; when he returned to the bench he grinned. "Gee, Coach," he said. "It works."
"He finally learned to run north and south," says Royal, "instead of east and west."
As a junior, Saxton ran for 407 yards in 76 carries, averaging 5.4. Never did he play as much as half of a game, however; he simply pooped out. It wasn't lack of condition but nervous exhaustion.
"He burns a different fuel than other boys," says Royal.
"I think I'm better this year," Saxton says. "I've learned to gear down. I hurt my back on a pass play the second week of practice and I was in the hospital four days. I've had to take it easy."
Because of the ease with which Texas won its first eight games and because of two superb replacements, Saxton has played less this year than in 1960. Jerry Cook, a 205-pound junior, is a bruising runner who would be a star back on almost any other team; his 509 yards rushing, in 89 attempts, puts him second only to Saxton in the entire Southwest Conference. Behind Cook, or perhaps on the same level, is sophomore Tommy Ford, a tough 180-pounder who runs like a rubber ball; Ford has gained 376 yards in 74 carries. When Texas' star fullback, Ray Poage, was hurt against Rice, Ford moved to that position, and now both of Saxton's substitutes have more playing time than James has. Only against TCU has Saxton played in the fourth quarter.