Benders of Defenses

The Bender brothers are excellent defenders. - Pool

In this past weekend's post-victory haze, my poetical mind began searching for something that spoke of bending but not breaking and of coming through at the most important times. I'm surprised that my mind managed to think of much at all at that point, but the idea that came to mind was another one of those poems that proved to be memorable enough to sit patiently in my memory bank for the right moment.

Robert Frost's "Birches" describes birch trees that have been bent by ice storms so that they look like this:



Visual provided for snow-deprived Southerners.

Frost's narrator, however, wants to believe that the bending of the trees has been caused by something more fanciful and enjoyable:



Pictured: An Auburn fan destroying someone else's trees.

You might read this week's poem and wonder at the lack of shout-out to the real benders of defenses that kept Murray from spending the game on his back, but, as ESPN repeatedly reminded us, the story of this one was the quarterbacks. So well done, O-line; do another good job this week and I'll see what I can do. With apologies to Robert Frost:

When defenses bow to the left and right

across from lines of different-colored shirts,

I figure some QB's been bending them.

But bending doesn't bow them down to stay

for seasons whole. Often we fans have seen them,

loaded with youth a sunny autumn evening

during a game. They fold upon themselves

as pressure rises, and surrender yardage

as the O cracks their battered secondary.

Yet the D's strength makes them shed youthful woes,

battering and avalanching ‘gainst the O-line,

penetrating broken pocket to sack

the often-mobile quarterback with Dome in sight.

Though they seem, at times, to be pushed beyond the breaking point,

and yet they do not break; they hold up their hands

and swat down balls and hurdle O-linemen.

You may see their trunks arching at game's end,

hands upraised, turning faces towards the crowd,

as their quarterback rifles the football

over everyone's heads in great jubilation.

But I was going to say ere reliving

the latest, greatest Bulldog victory this year

I should prefer to watch Murray bend Ds,

as he plays closer to breaking records-

our guy, who's spent his life learning football,

whose big-game woes he's fought off by himself,

summer and autumn, who will soon stand alone.

One by one, he's subduing rivals' Ds

by wearing them down over and over again,

until he takes the stoutness out of them,

and they all hang limp; soon, not one will be left

for him to conquer. He's learning all there is

to learn about not checking down too soon

or too quickly throwing the ball away-

or in triple cov'rage. He's learned to keep his poise

in the big ballgames, playing carefully,

with but few pains he's caused by messing up

or stalling out, even going three and out.

But then he'll throw downfield, feet firm, with a swish,

bombing his deep ball through the air for a score.

So I do love to watch our bender of defenses.

And so I dream of taking back a ring.

It's when I'm weary of poll machinations

and ball is too much like a hobnail boot

where your face burns and reddens from the heartbreak

broken across it, and both eyes are weeping

from the fiery burn of five and five short.

I have to get away from ball for awhile,

but always come back to it and begin over.

May not Excessivus misunderstand me

and half grant what I wish yet snatch wins away,

not to return. Pasadena's best for ball:

I don't know where I'd like to go better.

I'd like to go by beating Tennessee,

and wear red britches ‘gainst our snow-white shirts;

beat conf'rence, ‘til the SEC could bear no more,

but tipped the polls and set us at the top.

That would be good both going and flying back.

We can both be and beat benders of defenses.



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