But Powe knew his talent – the same talent now on display for the No. 3 Tigers.
"He's always been a good player to me, even when he was backing up Tebow at Florida," Powe said. "It don't surprise me, the success he's having. He's a great athlete. We're going to try and shut him down this week."
After a year spent in junior college, where he helped lead Blinn College to a national championship, Newton has burst onto the scene as a junior on the Plains. He is one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, as announced Monday.
"Just try to out physical him," Powe said when asked of how to slow the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Newton. "Real good player. Real big. Just try to go out and out physical him. Can't miss tackles."
Newton has accounted for the most touchdowns of any player in college football (27) this season, including 14 rushing, which also leads the country. He was named the SEC offensive player of the week for the fourth time Monday after rushing for 217 yards and two touchdowns in a win over LSU. He also connect on 10 of his 16 passes for 86 yards.
In all, Newton had 303 yards of total offense. He broke the SEC single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback during the game and now has 1,077 on the season.
"Hit him low. Wrap up. Roll tackle," Powe said. "Coach (Tyrone) Nix emphasizes that a lot – role tackling – especially against guys like Cam Newton. I think it's going to be important that we wrap him up and be physical with him."
Randall Mackey, redshirting as a junior, will play the part of Newton in practice. He's a similar, dual-threat quarterback to Newton, but is nowhere near his size, standing 6-foot, 190 pounds.
"Mackey can help us a lot, but I don't think he's going to be trucking none of us at practice," Powe said. "But he definitely can help us (prepare for Newton) with his scrambling ability."
Poor fundamentals leading to defensive struggles:
Upsetting the powerful Tigers will be a tall task Saturday.
Ole Miss has struggled defensively in 2010, having consistently surrendered explosive plays to the opposition. Overall, the Rebels rank near the bottom in most statistical categories, including 10th in total defense.
"It's definitely not being out of position," Powe said. "Coach Nix does a good job all week long of putting us in the position we need to be in. I think we've just had a lack of execution."
Ole Miss twice pulled within seven points of Arkansas in an eventual 38-24 loss, only to see its defense surrender long touchdown runs to Razorback running back Knile Davis.
Senior free safety Fon Ingram said he was surprised by the unit's performance in the loss, specifically with missed tackles.
"We've got to tackle," Ingram said. "That's what it all goes back to. You've got to fundamentally tackle. When you're fundamentally sound, everything else falls into place. We have to tackle better."
Ingram said the blown assignments and explosive plays have taken a mental toll on not just the defense, but the team as a whole.
"I'm pretty sure it bothers everyone a lot," he said. "As much as we look up to the offense, the offense looks up to the defense. It affects a lot of us how we perform. Everybody's still real tight. Everything's a much better focus."
Even at 3-4 (1-3 SEC) midway through the season, Powe believes the team can rebound. Two years ago, Ole Miss held an equal record, only to reel off six-straight wins en route to the first of back-to-back nine-win seasons.
"I think the team does (have the ability to rebound)," Powe said. "We're young. We're searching to play a complete game. We haven't played a complete game yet. Either we start fast, finish slow or vice versa. We're looking forward to playing a complete game. Once we do that, I think we'll have a pretty good team."