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FSU's Brannon returns to his place in line

Starting OT Ross Brannon, who missed Saturday's game with a sprained ankle, said he'll return against North Carolina.

"The game's just too big, and I've had time to heal," said Brannon, a redshirt freshman who stands 6 feet 8 and weighs 280 pounds. "The coaches decided to hold me out against North Carolina State. This way I'll be at full speed."

The Seminoles hope Brannon and their other starters remain healthy because they can't afford to go with a backup.

Coach Bobby Bowden said North Carolina's blitz-happy defense will be the young offensive line's biggest test. . The coaches have added extra drills after practice to go over the Tar Heels' schemes and adjustments.

"The offensive line has done a good job this season _ and they're constantly improving _ but they'll have to turn it up another level this week," Bowden said. "We can't wait for them to mature; we need them ready this week."

The line's first mission is to make the Tar Heels respect the run. That means it can't be slow in its run-blocking schemes, Bowden said. Florida State plans to run out of the shotgun formation because the I-formation is "too predictable."

The Seminoles will count on freshman tailback Travis Minor, who received ACC Rookie of the Week honors for the second straight week after rushing for 64 yards on 10 carries and scoring two touchdowns in the win over North Carolina State. Minor has scored six touchdowns in his two starts. He leads FSU in scoring with 60 points (10 touchdowns) and is FSU's leading rusher at 44.1 yards per game.

CHANGES: DE Greg Spires has a new face mask because of a collision with DT Corey Simon on Saturday. Spires' face mask was grossly bent out of shape by the hit, and Spires was cut on his right ear. He did not need stitches. Simon will be held out of contact this week because of a neck/shoulder burner, but he is expected to play Saturday.

_ OMAR KELLY, TIMES WIRES

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