FAYETTEVILLE — Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney knew the question was coming.

FAYETTEVILLE — Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney knew the question was coming.


The Razorbacks had wrapped up another dominant win, beating Texas Tech 49-28 in Lubbock. It was the second straight week Arkansas had bullied an opponent with its bruising ground game, putting together a 438-yard rushing effort. But it also was the second straight game quarterback Brandon Allen didn’t have to ice his throwing shoulder after attempting only a handful of passes in a run-dominated offense.


So even though Arkansas was enjoying the offensive success, was there any concern from Chaney the passing attack hadn’t gotten more work?


"Not one bit," Chaney said, interrupting before the question was even finished Sunday. "When we need to throw I feel comfortable we’ll be able to do that."


Arkansas’ offense is coming off one of its most successful two-game stretches in school history, combining for 1,183 yards and 17 touchdowns in wins against Nicholls State and Texas Tech. Even though the Razorbacks have established their run game as one to reckon with during the impressive stretch, it hasn’t drowned out the curiosity about a passing offense that was the team’s biggest weakness in 2013.


Arkansas didn’t have to throw the ball to beat up on either opponent. But what happens when the Razorbacks do need to make plays through the air?


Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, like Chaney, is confident his team (2-1) will get it done, beginning with Saturday’s game against Northern Illinois (3-0). In fact, he referred to the passing offense as the "the best-kept secret in Fayetteville."


"That day is coming," Bielema said. "In practice we are not running the ball 68 times and throwing it 12 times or whatever it was. We are doing a balance that is probably even more lopsided for the pass just because we wanted to get some extra work on it. I am very, very excited to see where it comes out when it does."


For now, the run-pass split over the past two games is one-sided.


The Razorbacks have run the ball on 108 plays (80.6 percent) and thrown it 26 times (19.4 percent) in the wins. It’s even larger with starting quarterback Brandon Allen on the field in those games (83.7 percent pass, 17.3 percent run).


It’s no surprise Arkansas is averaging an SEC-best 362 rushing yards a game, while the passing offense is last in the league (141.7 yards). But Arkansas also is 10th in the SEC and 48th in the NCAA in passing efficiency (146.5 rating), so Bielema believes there has been some improvement through the air.


"Statistically, I know the numbers may not be there on par with pure quantitative totals," Bielema said. "But the percentage – I always look for efficiency. I don’t really care about numbers. I love the fact that we ran the ball 68 times (at Texas Tech), but if we didn’t run the ball 68 times efficiently than we wouldn’t have won the game. To me the efficiency is the equation. And our passing efficiency is very, very good."


The Razorbacks did produce at some important times at Texas Tech.


Allen was 6-for-12 for 61 yards against the Red Raiders. The 61 yards was the lowest since a 30-yard passing performance against South Carolina last season, but five of Allen’s completions led to first downs. He also went 3-for-4 on third down passes, moving the chains three times during first-half drives.


But Arkansas knows there’s room for work. The Auburn loss proved it. The Tigers clamped down on the Arkansas ground game and the passing attack couldn’t carry the load. The Razorbacks were outscored 24-0 in the second half of the 45-21 loss.


Allen also missed a handful of throws against the Red Raiders. The most memorable was overthrowing a deep ball to receiver Keon Hatcher on a trick play. Hatcher had a step on his defender and may have scored with a well-thrown pass.


"We’re still confident," Allen said. "We’ve done it all in practice. We know we can go out and perform our passing game. We just really didn’t need to (last) weekend. So credit the offensive line, the running backs for the jobs they did to just basically move the ball at will. We didn’t need to call a whole lot of plays, kind of kept the play-calling minute, small and didn’t show a whole lot."


Bielema said it was no secret keeping the ball on the ground, taking control of the clock and wearing out a defense that had struggled to stop the run was the obvious route to success. Arkansas ran the ball on its final 30 plays at Texas Tech.


"That formula isn’t going to work this week," Bielema said.


Arkansas plans to run the ball once again, but expects a bigger test from NIU. The Huskies are 13th in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 81 yards a game.


NIU coach Rod Carey said his defense must dig in to slow Arkansas’ massive offensive line and talented tailbacks, who he described as the best trio in the country. But he won’t let his team believe Arkansas is just a one-sided attack with Alex Collins, Jonathan Williams and Korliss Marshall.


"Just because they don’t do it a whole lot doesn’t mean they’re not good at it," Carey said. "I see everything that makes up a good passing team in them."


Allen and the Arkansas receivers are preparing for the test after leaning on the ground game the past two weeks. The quarterback joked that he hasn’t had enough work to warrant any shoulder soreness after Arkansas’ wins, but the Razorbacks "won’t be able to run all over everybody" this season.


When that day comes, Hatcher said the Razorbacks are eager to prove they can make plays through the air to compliment the ground game.


"We’re going to run the ball," Hatcher said. "J-Will and Alex and Korliss, they’re going to do their thing. If they can stop the run we’re going to air it out. But if they can’t stop it, why throw it you know? …


"We’re confident. We’re just waiting on coach to call the plays and go make plays."