Football Coaching Staff
Mike Cavanaugh
Offensive Line Coach
Coach Info:
Position: Offensive Line Coach
Hometown: Wallingford, Conn.
Alma Mater: Southern Connecticut State
Graduating Year: 1986

Mike Cavanaugh is in his third season on the Nebraska coaching staff, serving as the Huskers' offensive line coach. Cavanaugh is in his 13th season with Mike Riley, working for 10 seasons on Riley's Oregon State staff.  

Cavanaugh also spent time in the National Football League with the San Diego Chargers and has 31 overall years of coaching experience.

In 2016, Cavanaugh helped the Huskers' resurgence as Nebraska improved in the win column by four games, posting a 9-4 record and a trip to the Music City Bowl. Cavanaugh's offensive line battled injuries and youth to rank among the nation's best teams in protecting the passer. NU allowed just 15 sacks in 2016 to rank first in the Big Ten and 14th nationally in that category, the second straight year Cavanaugh's line ranked in the top 15 nationally.

The play of the line also allowed Nebraska to rank 26th nationally in time of possession, while helping the Huskers control the running game in the fourth quarter. Sophomore offensive tackle Nick Gates earned third-team All-Big Ten honors as the anchor of Cavanaugh's group. 

In his first season at Nebraska, Cavanaugh's offensive line helped the Nebraska offense produced excellent results. The Huskers ranked in the top three in the Big Ten in scoring offense, passing offense, total offense and third-down conversion percentage. Nebraska also produced 3,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards for only the third time in school history. Nebraska allowed just 14 sacks to rank second in the Big Ten and ninth nationally in fewest sacks allowed. Senior tackle Alex Lewis earned second-team All-Big Ten honors, while Gates was a freshman All-Big Ten pick.

The line put an exclamation point on the 2015 season with a dominant bowl effort, as the Huskers rushed for a season-high 326 yards in a victory over UCLA.

The play of Cavanaugh’s offensive lines helped the Beavers to record-setting offensive numbers and to bowl appearances in six of his 10 seasons in Corvallis. Behind the play of Cavanaugh's offensive line quarterback Sean Mannion set single-season and career Pac-12 records for passing yards, completing his career in 2014.

The Beavers' offensive line also paved the way for several all-conference runners. Beaver running backs Yvenson Bernard and Jacquizz Rodgers each produced three 1,000-yard rushing seasons behind Cavanaugh-coached lines. Cavanaugh’s offensive lines were also regularly among the league’s best at protecting the passer.

Cavanaugh's players at Oregon State were regularly honored for their efforts. Andy Levitre, Jeremy Perry and Isaac Seumalo each garnered All-America honors under Cavanaugh, while 23 of his players earned all-conference honors in the past decade.

The offensive line play for Oregon State has allowed the Beavers to have success both running and passing the football. In 2013, Oregon State ranked third nationally in passing offense by averaging nearly 375 yards per game. On the ground, Oregon State featured a 1,000-yard rusher in each of Cavanaugh’s first six seasons in Corvallis.

Cavanaugh was also a key part in directing some of the nation’s top offenses at Hawaii, while tutoring the offensive line from 1999 to 2004. In each of his final four seasons with the Warriors, Hawaii ranked in the top 20 nationally in total offense, including second in 2002. Hawaii featured a potent passing attack, largely due to Cavanaugh's lines allowing just one sack on every 26 attempts.

Cavanaugh served on the San Diego Chargers staff in 1997 and 1998 as an assistant offensive line coach. He also had college assistant stops at Ferris State, Sacred Heart, Murray State, Alma College, Wesleyan (Conn.) and Albany.

Cavanaugh Coaching History

Coaching Experience
2015-17: Nebraska, Assistant Coach (Offensive Line)
2005-14: Oregon State, Assistant Coach (Offensive Line)
1999-2004: Hawaii, Assistant Coach (Offensive Line)
1997-98: San Diego (NFL), Assistant Coach (Assistant Offensive Line & Quality Control)
1995-96: Ferris State, Assistant Coach (Offensive Line)
1993-94: Sacred Heart, Assistant Coach (Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line)
1992: Murray State, Assistant Coach (Offensive Line)
1988-91: Alma (Mich.) College, Assistant Coach (Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line; Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers)
1987: Wesleyan (Conn.), Assistant Coach (Offensive Line)
1986: Albany (N.Y.), Graduate Assistant Coach

Playing Experience
1981-82: New Haven

Education: Bachelor’s in Physical Education, Southern Connecticut State, 1986
Family: Wife, Laurie; Children, Shane, Blair

Cavanaugh Career Highlights

  • 31 seasons of coaching experience, including the past 30 seasons as a full-time offensive line coach 
  • Nebraska ranked first in the Big Ten in sacks allowed in 2016
  • Nebraska ranked second in the Big Ten and ninth nationally in fewest sacks allowed in 2015
  • Helped lead Oregon State to six bowl appearances in 10 seasons at Oregon State
  • 23 all-conference players at Oregon State
  • Three Beaver offensive lineman drafted by the National Football League
  • Offensive line helped quarterback Sean Mannion become the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer
  • 2013 Beaver offense ranked third nationally in passing offense
  • Had a first or second-team all-conference offensive lineman for five straight seasons from 2006 to 2010
  • Helped Hawaii rank in the top 10 nationally in total offense three times in six seasons at the school
  • Spent two seasons working with the offensive line with the NFL’s San Diego Chargers