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NC State Football

Shyheim Battle: "We've Had A Lot Of Growth"

December 4, 2020

NC State redshirt freshman cornerback Shyheim Battle met with the media via Zoom ahead of the Wolfpack's regular season finale versus Georgia Tech.

Battle currently ranks seventh in tackling with 32 on the season which includes one sack for 10 yards. He also has one interception and eight passes broken up.

A transcript of Battle’s comments is posted below.

How has Malik Dunlap’s departure rested with you personally? What does the secondary have to do to step up with him gone?

“I don’t really like speak on what other guys have going on. I feel he made the best decision for him. I wish him the best. As a unit, we just have to see how everybody feels about the program and how we’re doing things, make sure we’re interconnected, make sure no one is feeling unwelcome or anything like that. We just have to pick each other up, make sure everybody gets what they need to get done, and hold each other accountable so we can keep growing.”

To go from 4-8 a year ago to reaching a bowl this year, how neat of a turnaround has this been? How excited are you for the position you’ve put yourselves in?

“We’re very excited. With this week coming up, our main goal is to make history. The bowl game is very big, and we appreciate everything we’ve done, but we know nothing just happens. This all started back in January when we did a team bonding program. We had to work as a team to get everything completed, and I feel like that got everybody bonded together. We started a team group chat, and everybody interacted in there. It’s relationships; there are no side groups, no separation, no individualism. We got rid of a lot of bad energy from last year. This year, you can tell in the locker room that there’s no bad energy. If you have a problem, you go to the captain or the coach about it, and everything resolves. This team, we’ve had a lot of growth, and it’s shown on the field. Everybody’s playing for each other and making sacrifices for each other. Nobody’s complaining about this call or that call. Whatever the coach calls, we’ll be successful.”

How important is it to get matched up with a high-caliber opponent in the upcoming bowl game?

“It’ll be big. It’ll show us where we’re really at, playing a team that’s as good as us. It’s going to be a challenge, but we’ve been facing challenges all year. We’re ready for it.”

With the turbulence that’s accompanied the 2020 season thanks to COVID-19, how satisfying is it to reach the end of the regular season with no game cancellations and minimal exposure compared to other programs?

“It shows how committed the guys are on this team to what we wanted to accomplish. Like I said, nobody has been selfish. We all understood that we shouldn’t go to any parties or we shouldn’t surround ourselves with people that could cause us to get COVID. We held ourselves accountable, and we just made smart decisions to stay within our circle. If we wanted to go out or go see family, we’d wear our masks and make sure everyone would stay safe. Without us missing any games, it feels good. Everybody was on the same page to accomplish the same goal.”

Can you tell us more about the program the team went through together in the offseason?

“We did a lot. There were two key components that I can remember. I know one of them was where we had to hold a log of wood on one shoulder, and another teammate would hold it on the other shoulder. There was four of us [at a time], and we balanced it out the best way we could to get the job done. We also had to carry a sandbag about 25 yards and back, then the person who dropped the sandbag grabs the pole, and another player would run down and do the same thing. It showed that you have to have balance and how you can’t count anybody out. It just made us work together and uplift each other to push each other through because the wood was heavy, and the guys wanted to drop the wood, but when you drop the wood, you’ve got to start over. Another drill we did was where we wore hoodies and dove into a 12-foot pool with another player, take off the hoodie and switch with the partner within a minute. We couldn’t hold onto anything; we were in the middle of the water. That gained trust. If you were about to drown, your partner had to help lift you. If you had to come up for air, he’d push you up. Sometimes the jacket would get stuck, so it’d take longer, and if you didn’t beat the time, you had to do it all over again. Another drill we had to do was swim all the way across the pool in a certain amount of time. It wasn’t about who does it the fastest; it was about doing it together. If a person way out front or way out back, then you basically left a guy behind. It was about finishing at the same time. That was that togetherness that helped us build each other up. That’s why we’re not trying to leave guys out with what’s going on, and that’s helped us in what we’ve accomplished this year.”

How long was this program?

“I believe it was two days. We had to get up at four in the morning on a school night, so you had to be disciplined, get your sleep early, be here at the stadium at 4 a.m. dressed in assembly line, had to be in the same shorts, same shirt as everybody else, with deodorant, an extra shirt, and a towel in your bag, and a sandwich just in case you got hungry. We got one break where we had about five minutes to eat, and then we had to get right back in line. It was very detailed, but it was only a couple of days.”

The Wolfpack is undefeated with Tanner Ingle in the lineup. What does he provide for the team in the secondary?

“He brings a lot of power and energy. He’s our backbone. He comes in as the last line of defense. If nobody else makes a tackle, he’s coming in with everything he’s got to make that tackle. I’ve seen him on film make a tackle with one arm. I’ve seen him take out blocks for us just so we could make the tackle. He will do whatever’s possible so we can be successful on the field. I appreciate him for that.”

With so many young pieces on the defense, was that a factor in the defense taking a while to click? At this point in the season, do you feel it’s become a cohesive unit?

“Yes. It’s all about us getting a feel for the game. Early on, a lot of us, myself included, didn’t have any game experience. Some guys came straight out of high school and were rushed into a big game. It’s like, ‘This is happening fast. These guys are bigger. These guys are stronger.’ You’ve got to learn to wrap up and tackle. You’ve got to learn how to cover faster receivers. Routes are sharper. We’re getting more polished at what we do now. It’s starting to slow down for us. It was kind of hard at first, but as time went on, it started to slow down for us, we started understanding what was going on, and film study helped us a lot with that. The coaches taught us how to study film, how to break down receivers, and all that stuff. That played a big role in us getting better at our craft.”

Are the game reps the biggest difference between then and now?

“Yes, 100 percent. Practice is good, but once you’re in the game, nobody can run the route exactly how they’re going to run the route. Once you see it in the game, you see exactly how he wants to run, and it slows down once you know what to look at.”

What concerns you when you watch Georgia Tech?

“I see they have a strong run game with a couple of power backs that are strong at breaking off tackles and getting big runs. We have to stop the run game more than anything. They have a really talented quarterback. He’s a freshman, but he can throw it when he needs to, and he knows how to scramble out of the pocket. We need to stop the run first and then capitalize on everything else."

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