Kansas beat Southern Miss, 35-28, on Sept. 26, 2010. Two weeks later, after a bye week, they beat Iowa State, 41-36. The Jayhawks didn't beat FBS teams in consecutive games again in 2010, nor did they in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 or 2017. Then Pooka Williams Jr. suited up and they beat FBS teams in back-to-back games for the first time in nine years.
Williams was a four-star recruit from Hahnville High School in Boutte, La., the 2018 class. He committed to Kansas on the first weekend of February 2017, a wild weekend for the Jayhawks that included commitments from four-star cornerback Corione Harris, four-star receivers Devonta Jason and J'Marr Chase and three-star safety Aaron Brule. Jason, Chase and Brule signed elsewhere, but Harris and Williams kept their word and became the highest-ranked signees in program history when they inked in February. In doing so, Williams passed on offers from LSU, Mississippi State and Nebraska to sign with a team that had 14 wins since 2010, zero road wins since 2009 and zero back-to-back wins over FBS teams since 2011.
“This kid never wavered,” Beaty said recently. “He wanted to be a Jayhawk. He wanted to be a guy that was a builder, and he never wavered.”
After "eligibility issue" forced Williams — whose first name is Anthony and was given the nickname Pooka by his grandmother at a young age — to miss Kansas' Week 1 loss to Nicholls, the 5-foot-10, 170-pounder debuted vs. Central Michigan in Week 2, shredding the Chippewas for 133 total yards and two touchdowns on only 15 touches.
Beaty was initially vague about Williams' "eligibility" issue for the remainder of the season, but he played vs. Rutgers in Week 3 and dominated in the 55-14 win, rushing 18 times for 158 yards in leading Kansas to their highest point total vs. a Power Five team since 2010.
"[V]ery proud of him," Beaty said after the Rutgers game. "Plays with a lot of football aptitude . . . makes defenders commit before he makes a move."
Among other things, an improved offensive line and defense that's forced 11 turnovers through three games have played big roles in leading Kansas to their first 2-1 start since 2011. Williams, however, has been the spark plug igniting an offense that ranked 100th or worse in nearly every offensive category in each of the last eight seasons.
Kansas visits Baylor in Week 4. They haven't won a Big 12 road game since 2008. Williams is 2-for-2 in busting streaks. Can he make it 3-for-3?