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Top MAC Football Players of 2014: No. 24 Ben Ingle, Ball State LB

Ball State will be doing it with defense this season. No player is more important to that mission than Ben Ingle.

Brian Kersey

Under head coach Pete Lembo, Ball State has utilized a prolific and high flying offense to produce the most successful run in school history.  With the departure of record breaking playmakers like quarterback Keith Wenning and wide receiver Willie Snead, the Cardinals will find themselves in a unique position for the 2014 campaign, doing it with defense.  The Ball State offensive line was highlighted on our top 50 list, with center Jacob Richard coming in at No. 35.  Next up is 2013 All-MAC Second Team selection,  outside linebacker Ben Ingle.

Simply put, Ingle is poised for a breakout season with the Cardinals.  After redshirting in 2011, Ingle played in 12 games during the 2012 season, including the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.  Last year was when the rest of the MAC was really introduced to the sort of damage Ingle can do to opposing offenses.  The 6-foot 230 pound Ingle started in 11 games, and in the first of those starts, against Illinois State, he picked off a pass and returned it 26 yards.  For the season he would rack up 116 tackles, good for fourth in the MAC.  Ingle was central to a Cardinals defense that emphasized a bend but don't break mentality all season.  While Ball State ranked seventh in the MAC in yards allowed, they were third in scoring defense.

This season more responsibility will be placed on Ingle, as the Cardinals look to return the Bronze Stalk to Muncie for the first time since 2008, the same year the Cardinals last made a trip to Detroit for the MAC Championship Game.

"When Jahwan (Edwards) and I walked in here, the first thing that we said was that we have to be back here in several months," Ingle told the Fort Wayne News Sentinel at MAC Media Day. "To do that, we have to take the next step. And to do that, you have to be on all cylinders and be at your best every single game and every single play."

Certainly in a conference that is no stranger to the 50 point game, it may in fact come down to the team that is able to come up with the best defensive performance.  Bowling Green showed fans that in their defeat of Northern Illinois in last year's MAC Championship Game.

"It starts with practice," Ingle said of a championship mentality. "You have to practice like you play every single day. The culture that coach Lembo and his staff have instilled in us, really emphasizes that.

You win the games on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays."

It doesn't get more MACtion than that.