In true freshman Jalon Daniels, Kansas football has a player the program believes can develop into its quarterback of the future.


That said, if KU doesn’t see significant strides out of its porous offensive line, a position group that reached a new low Saturday, there may not be a future to speak of for Daniels — or any other Jayhawk signal caller, for that matter.


"He got hit a lot of times in that game," said KU head coach Les Miles of Daniels, who was sacked nine times in the Jayhawks’ 62-9 defeat to No. 19 Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. "We can’t treat our quarterback that way or we won’t have one, and that’s a fact."


That was certainly true by the final whistle of Saturday’s four-hour beat-down.


The Sooners’ last sack of Daniels came with just 10 minutes remaining in the blowout defeat, but it could have long-term ramifications for the remainder of the Jayhawks’ season. Facing a third-and-13 from the KU 17, Daniels was awkwardly folded up almost immediately after receiving the snap, with OU's Isaiah Thomas becoming the seventh Sooner to record at least a partial sack in the contest.


After lying on the field for several minutes, Daniels only made his way to the sideline with the aid of two trainers. As he was helped to the bench, Daniels at least initially couldn’t put any weight on his left leg, suffering an apparent ankle injury on the hit.


Daniels was able to walk the sideline for the remainder of the game, and Miles provided at least a measure of good news in his postgame remarks on the 6-foot, 203-pounder’s condition.


"The update is what I (was told) when I walked by and (Daniels) says, ‘It seems a lot better,’ " Miles said. "I don’t know to what extent that means but I know he’s going to work hard and do everything he can to be back because I don’t know exactly how bad (it was)."


Whether Daniels should return for any of KU’s remaining three games is up for debate.


The former three-star recruit has three times this season been sidelined while playing behind his team’s work-in-progress offensive line, also suffering ankle injuries in defeats to Oklahoma State (Oct. 3) and Iowa State (Oct. 31). Entering play this weekend, KU ranked 112th out of 115 eligible teams nationally in sacks allowed per game (4.8), a number will only get worse after Saturday’s dire showing.


Asked whether it is worth the risk to continue to deploy Daniels behind this offensive line, Miles indicated that line of thinking won’t be a factor on whether or not the true freshman continues to start.


"I really think that they’re a capable (offensive line). I think they’re capable of playing it," Miles said. "What can you do with them? Continue to work ’em. There’s an open date and at some point in time there will be some young guys shooting ahead (on the depth chart), and if that’s what happens, that’s what happens. But I’m not certain."


Making matters worse, the Jayhawks (0-7, 0-6 Big 12) were without their best offensive lineman — Chris Hughes, a 6-4, 318-pound senior, was out with an unspecified injury, one of eight projected starters on the team’s did-not-dress list for the contest with the Sooners (5-2, 4-2).


Despite the offensive line’s performance — KU blockers surrendered 11 tackles for loss in the defeat, with standout sophomore linebacker Nik Bonitto (three sacks) leading the way for OU — Miles said he has observed improvement from that group as the season has gone on.


"It just goes to show you that this is really a pretty good Sooner football team," Miles said. "I didn’t expect that they would run around our tackles like they did. Yeah, I can’t wait to see this film to be honest with you."


A 38½-point underdog, the Jayhawks had little chance of making Saturday’s game competitive.


Daniels threw a pair of first-quarter interceptions and finished his abbreviated appearance 11-for-31 passing for 115 yards and those two picks. KU scored just twice, the first on a 32-yard field goal by Jacob Borcila as time expired on the first half and a second on a 20-yard touchdown connection from backup quarterback Miles Kendrick to freshman tight end Will Huggins on the final play of the game.


OU, meanwhile, was essentially on cruise control, piling up 540 yards of offense. Five different Sooners combined to account for the team’s six rushing touchdowns, with senior Rhamondre Stevenson (11 carries, 104 yards, two touchdowns) pacing the home squad’s ground game. OU averaged 6.5 yards per carry.


With sacks factored in, Daniels was credited for 15 "carries" for minus-47 yards.


"Painful event for me because I promise you I felt like we could play with these guys," Miles said. "I felt like we could run the football with them and throw efficiently. ... (I’ll) tell you what, I still don’t feel that we can’t play with them. I didn’t say we’d beat ’em, but certainly I thought that we’d play with them today and give ourselves a chance to beat them late in the game. Nah, it didn’t happen that way."


After a much-needed bye week, KU will return to action against Texas on Nov. 21 in Lawrence.


"I like my team. I think they’re going to develop," Miles said. "I’ve never had a team this young, and it’s a damn good team, and the young guys are the best. I like some of the veterans certainly and they’ll play with us until they exceed their schooling, but I like where we’re going, obviously."


One such veteran player, senior linebacker Kyron Johnson, proved to be a rare highlight in what became the Jayhawks’ latest setback, recording seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble in the losing effort.


While he didn’t see the scary hit that knocked his team’s starting quarterback out of the game, Johnson nevertheless was one of the first players to check in on Daniels on the sideline.


He also delivered a message Daniels would be wise to heed.


"I told him, ‘Just always stand tall and walk tall,’ " Johnson recalled. "Basically, don’t show no kind of weakness."