By BLAKE TOPPMEYER
Herald-Whig Sports Writer
Every time Quincy Notre Dame quarterback Joe McCaughey watches the film of QND's game against Jefferson City Helias, he gets fairly disgusted with his performance.
"I definitely didn't like the Helias game," McCaughey said.
And so, he watched the film again and again and again.
McCaughey figures he's watched the film about eight times since the Crusaders beat the Raiders 27-0 on Sept. 8, 2012. McCaughey went 10-of-25 passing with 113 yards and three interceptions.
McCaughey watched the film twice during the season, once with teammate Ben Miller and once with the team, and then watched it numerous times by himself during the summer.
"You have to fix your mistakes," said McCaughey, a senior. "It doesn't really make you any better if you're only watching all the good plays you made. You have to watch everything you did poorly and improve upon that."
Plenty of film study was part of McCaughey's offseason regimen as he aims to improve in his second season starting under center. He has the tools to be a strong QB. McCaughey just needs an improved mental game, and he knows it.
McCaughey completed 80 of 163 passes last year for 1,032 yards. Yet, he had 11 INTs against five touchdowns.
"I watched a lot of video," McCaughey said. "The throwing game wasn't bad last year, but the decision-making in itself wasn't the best. I think that has the biggest room for improvement."
McCaughey also spent plenty of offseason time working on his passing, throwing to seniors Brady Genenbacher, Jordan Chapel and Barry Welper and Connor Obert, a senior on last year's team.
In fact, McCaughey's offseason workouts didn't even lighten up during his six days in Virginia Beach at the Catholic Heart Work Camp. McCaughey was part of a volunteer group that rebuilt a fence and an awning. He had to meet for breakfast each morning at 7 a.m.
He and Obert woke up every morning at 6 a.m., and Obert ran routes for McCaughey for about 30 to 40 minutes before they reported to breakfast.
"He ran every route on the passing tree for me," McCaughey said. "That really helped me out a lot. We went through the passing tree from both sides of the ball, probably two or three times apiece.
"I think I have more zip on the ball this year. I definitely got a lot stronger in the offseason. I can get the ball a lot deeper."
McCaughey realizes his team will be counting on him more this season, not only in production but also for leadership.
That means taking command of the offense.
"It was my offense, but I had a lot of seniors on the offense who were big leaders on the offense last year," McCaughey said. "It's my turn to be a leader this year."
QND coach Bill Connell is expecting that leadership from McCaughey.
"We're expecting he's going to be better than he was as a junior," Connell said. "He's going to learn from mistakes. He's had a great offseason. We're looking for an improved Joe McCaughey. We're expecting he's going to be a good decision-maker. He's going to be able to throw the ball harder than he did as a junior. The quarterback position is a huge position."
QND's ground attack has some question marks surrounding it this season after three starters from the offensive line graduated, along with Obert, the fullback, and tailback Nick Weiman, who gained 1,080 yards.
That could mean McCaughey is asked to put the ball in the air more, especially considering he has Chapel, Welper and Zach Vahle returning as starters at wide receiver.
"I have high expectations for him," Chapel said. "He gets the ball down the field, makes really good reads, and he can find the open man, which is really big. I feel like he can really improve himself this year."
If McCaughey shows that improvement, he can finally put that Helias film into retirement.