The University of Virginia suspended starting right tackle Brad Butler yesterday for Saturday night's game against No. 4 Florida State at Scott Stadium for his chop block during last week's 28-17 loss at Boston College.

Butler, a senior from Lynchburg, Va., dived into the back of the knees of Eagles defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka with about 121/2 minutes left in the third quarter of last Saturday's game at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass. The play appeared to occur after the whistle was blown, and Boston College defensive tackle Al Washington jumped on Butler and was ejected for retaliating.

Kiwanuka, the preseason ACC player of the year and a possible first-round choice in April's NFL draft, returned to the game after a few minutes and was ejected with 5 minutes 38 seconds left in the third quarter for punching Butler. Butler jumped in the air and cheered after Kiwanuka was kicked out of the game.

"Brad crossed the line and for that he must take accountability," Virginia Coach Al Groh said in a statement released by the school last night. "We have talked in detail and he has assured me that his actions on the play at issue were a result of over-aggressiveness and over-exuberance to block a challenging opponent and without malice. His intent was to take the player to the ground, not to inflict injury. In any case, we regret that the incident occurred and apologize to Mathias."

Virginia Athletic Director Craig Littlepage said he decided to suspend Butler after speaking with Groh and ACC Commissioner John Swofford. Littlepage also met with Butler yesterday.

"Brad is a hard-working and aggressive lineman who has no pattern of unsportsmanlike play; his history is one of playing by the rules on and off the field," Littlepage said in a statement. "He stated it was not his intention to hurt anyone during Saturday's game and our hope is that the entire Boston College team will understand this."

Butler, who has started the last 31 games at tackle for the Cavaliers, declined to speak about the play after Saturday's game. In a statement released by the school, he said: "I've never been one to play outside of the rules. I was not trying to hurt Mathias Kiwanuka. I was engaged in blocking him because he is the type of player who makes plays all over the field. I regret this event occurred and have put the incident behind me."

Butler's suspension is another blow for a Virginia team that has lost consecutive games at Maryland and Boston College. The Cavaliers played both those games without left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson, a preseason all-American who is recovering from a sprained knee. His availability for the Florida State game is unknown.

If Ferguson can't play, the Cavaliers will probably start sophomore tackle Eddie Pinigis or one of three freshmen -- Zak Stair (Osbourn Park), Eugene Monroe or Branden Albert (Glen Burnie).

The Seminoles, ranked fourth in the ACC in both total defense (286.6 yards per game) and scoring defense (14.4 points per game), lead the conference with 20 sacks. Florida State defensive end Kamerion Wimbley is tied for the league lead with five sacks, and defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley has 31/2.

Defensive Backfield Shuffled

Virginia freshman Chris Cook, who moved into the starting lineup at cornerback, broke his right leg in the Boston College game and will have surgery. Groh said the team might consider moving junior Tony Franklin back to cornerback from safety. Freshman Mike Brown and junior Marcus Hamilton (Centreville) played cornerback against the Eagles after Cook was hurt. Sophomore Chris Gorham continues to struggle in pass coverage.

Quick Hits

Virginia's Oct. 22 game at North Carolina will kick off at noon and will be televised by WDCA-20. . . . Florida State right guard Matt Meinrod, the Seminoles' best offensive lineman, broke his left fibula and dislocated his left ankle in last week's 41-24 victory over Wake Forest and will miss the rest of the season.